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OBLIGATORY FILLER MATERIAL – Just take a hard left at Daeseong-dong…5

Continuing
“Hey, Viv!”, I say, as we’re all being shuttled onto the bus which will take us to our hotel, “Toss me one of those miniatures, if you please. Yeah. Of course, Vodka’ll do. It’s bloody dusty round these parts.”
Viv chuckles and asks if anyone else wants anything. He’s a consummate scrounger and somehow sweet-talked a demure and pulchritudinous female Air China cabin attendant out of her phone number, Email address, and a case of 100 airline liquor miniatures.
That he looks like a marginally graying version of Robert Mitchum in his heyday and speaks fluent Dutch, French, and Italian might explain his success. I mean, a guy with four ex-wives can’t be all wrong, right?
He’s a definite outlier in this crowd. We could be characterized as a batch of aging natural geoscientists who collectively, sans Viv, add up to an approximate eight on the “Looker” scale. Besides the years, the mileage, the climatic, and industrial ravages, it’s a good thing we all have expansive personalities, as most of us are dreadful enough to make a buzzard barf.
But, save for Viv, no one presently here is on the make. Oh, sure; we’ll all sweet talk some fair nubile into a free drink or a double when we really ordered a regular drink, but we’re all married, most terminally, that is, over 35 years and counting. The odd thing is that save and except for Viv, none of us married folk had ever been divorced.
That is strange, considering that the global divorce rate hovers around 50%, and we are often called to be apart from kith and kin for prolonged periods. However, we are always faithful and committed to our marital units and those vows we spoke all those many long decades ago.
But, hey, we’re all seriously male and not anywhere near dead; and there’s no penalty for just looking, right?
Continuing.
We’re all loaded on a pre-war, not certain which war, by the way, bus which stank of fish, kimchee, and diesel fuel. We really don’t care even a tiny, iotic amount. It’s free transport, we’re tired of traveling, and not keen on walking any further than we absolutely have to.
Viv has been passing out boozy little liquor miniatures, and I’ve been handing out cigars since I bought a metric shitload back in Dubai Duty-Free and somehow got them all through customs.
We didn’t light up, as there was neither a driver nor handler present. So, we figured we’d all just wait on the cigars, and concentrate on having a little ground-level “Welcome to Best Korea” party until the powers that be got their collective shit together and provided drivers, herders, and handlers.
We sat there for 15 long minutes. Being the international ambassadors of amity and insobriety, we started making noises like “Hey! Where’s our fucking driver?” and “I am Doctor Academician! Of All State Russian Geological Survey! How dare you make me wait?
Suddenly, a couple of characters in ill-fitting gray suits and fake Rays Bans are outside the bus having a collective meltdown. Somehow, someone fucked up and put us on a ‘regular’ bus and not the ‘VIP’ bus. In other words, we got to see what the locals really got to ride around Pyongyang on instead of our supposed to be impressed by the bus that wasn’t there; but was now just arriving.
A spanking new purple-and-chrome Mercedes long-haul bus shows up. It even has our group name emblazoned above the placard that normally tells where the bus is headed or who it is for: “’국제 석유 지질 과학 연합’ [Gugje Seog-yu Jijil Gwahag Yeonhab] or ‘International Union of Petroleum Geological Sciences’”.
We are brusquely ordered off our present bus and into the opulent, obviously bespoke, bright yellow faux-leather interior Mercedes-Benz Tourismo RH M. It’s so new and so obviously a ploy to get us to think that all things here are so new and opulent, it even smells of that new car, ah, bus, aroma.
“Well, we’ll take care of that soon enough”, I muse, as the bus is equipped with ashtrays and we’re going on the scenic route to our hotel, which is only 25 or so kilometers from the airport. However, it was announced that it’ll take us about 2 hours to get to our hotel since we need to see the city in its best light and get a feeling for the town if we should ever find ourselves lost and alone.
We all know what’s going on. They’re getting our rooms ‘ready’ for our arrival and need some extra time to make sure everything’s all wired in and transmitting properly.
“Guys”, I muse to our new handlers, “I’ve been to the Soviet Union, pre-wall fall. I stayed in places where I was definitely among the first westerners ever to grace their porticos. We’re a busload of natural scientists, of eight different nationalities, covering the economic spectrum from staunch capitalism to sociable socialism to hard-core communism. You even think for a second we’re going to spill any beans about anything you’d find interesting or useful? Think again.”
In fact, it would become a running joke between us all to see what sort of fake bombshells we could drop into the normal conversation what would give the listener’s the greatest case of the jibblies.
But for now, our bags were all loaded into the cargo compartment of this very, very nice, I must admit, mode of conveyance. Our handlers: ‘Yuk’, ‘No’, ‘Man’, and ‘Kong’, are all seated upfront and please with their latest tally of bodies. We have a couple of shady fellow travelers with the knock-off Ray-Bans and shiny gray suits that just appeared out of the woodwork in the back, seated by the loo, watching over all of us, and we’re going on a fucking city tour, whether we like it or not.
We’re all present and accounted for. Let’s keep our camera in our bags for the time being as the drinking and smoking lights had just been lit as the bus fired up its new German-engineered and machined precision diesel engine.
The bus rumbled to life and after a moment or two of checking that all dials, gauges, and indicators were where they were supposed to be; without so much as a cursory glance, we pulled out into traffic.
Except there was none.
Not another bus, pushbike, tap-tap, scooter, car, truck, hover-board, or motorcycle in sight.
Nothing.
Seems we were a big deal. They shut down the main drag so we wouldn’t be encumbered by such proletariat things like traffic jams or people-things cluttering the roadway, clambering for a look at the Western scientific cadre.
So, away we whizzed, sans traffic and into the very belly of the beast, and onward; eventually, towards our hotel.
Our handlers were very kind to point out passing scenes of interest.
“Look, look! There’s the Potong River. Notice all the lovely birds, ‘eh what? See the Norwegian Blue? Beautiful plumage!”
“See here, look. Here’s the Taedong River. Many forms of fish in the river. Maybe we’ll see some fishermen. If you like, we can stop, and ask them about today’s catch.”
We all declined, as we were certain that the fish the ‘random fisherman’ we’d talk to was flown in fresh from elsewhere earlier in the day.
Besides, we were comfortable. We had our drinks, our cigars, and we were leaving the driving to someone else.
After being driven around the city and seeing all the wonderful monuments, like the faux Arch of Triumph, which looks exactly unlike its namesake Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile in Paris.
The Arch of Reunification, a monument to the goal of a reunified Korea, which, by necessity, is unfinished. Then there’s the Tomb of King Tongmyŏng, where people are lining up, just dying’ to get in.
Finally, we all called for our hotel, the Yanggakdo, after yet another mausoleum, the Kumsusan Memorial Palace of the Sun.
Arches or tombs. Such a stunning array of monuments and places of less than moderate interest.
We were interested in Mirae Scientists street (Future Scientists street). It is a street in a newly developed area in Pyongyang to house scientific institutions of the Kim Chaek University of Technology and its employees. But we were told that it was too late, there was not much there to see, we needed to express written permission to visit, and we’d be going there tomorrow or next week.
We wheel into the parking lot of the Yanggakdo Hotel and are immediately unimpressed by the pseudo-Baroque concrete fiasco that appears to stand, wobbly, before us. It’s a page right out of the Soviet Construction-For-The-Masses Handbook. A cold, gray concrete edifice with multitudes of seemingly little, tiny windows. A perfect metaphor for our travels thus far; look at the expansiveness of Best Korean wonders, through this pinhole.
However, we judged too soon. We were told to go inside and check-in, whilst our luggage would be de-bussed for us and handled by the expertly efficient hotel staff. The lobby was opulent, tastefully laid out in earth tones of facades of veneers of marble, granite, some garnet-mica schist, if my hand lens doesn’t lie, some Prepaleozoic anatectic migmatite, displaying intricate and intense plication, xenoliths, and graphic delineation of minerals by segregation through melting points. There was a gigantic well-appointed and well kept up aquarium, complete with snuffling sharks and nuclear-submarine sized groupers.
Very handsome indeed. Impressions increasing slightly.
Then we see that there’s a bloody casino on the bottom floor of the hotel, several bars interspersed throughout the hotel, and karaoke, of which I’m not terribly fond, but some of my European counterparts almost swooned at the prospect. There are a large pool and weight rooms/gymnasia, saunas and places to relax outside of one’s room, but still under the watchful eye of the thousands of ill-concealed video cameras at every turn.
“Covert surveillance” may be a thing in Best Korea, but it’s a practice still leaves a lot to be desired. The Eastern Siberian Russians back before the wall fell were more covert with their obvious button audio microphones woven into the fabric covering the headboard of your Intourist bed than the Best Koreans here. Their cameras were ‘disguised’ as flower arrangements, overhead lights, and speakers inexplicably placed into things like standing ashtrays, refuse bins, and randomly placed holes in the wall.
The floors were all covered with exquisite what looked to be hand-woven rugs of most vibrant crimson and gold; the usual Communistic colors. Always with some sort of floral pattern or pattern that’s supposed to be reflective of nature, as I was told. Evidently, for workers to remember what nature was as they don’t get out much with 14 to 16 hours workdays here in the Worker’s Paradise.
Enough of the travelogue; we all wander up to the front desk, and each with their own passport in hand, request our reserved rooms. We supposed that we would all have rooms on different floors as the reservations were made, expired, re-made, juggled, rebooked, allowed to expire, re-jiggered, and finally formalized a scant week before we left the UK.
Nope. No such luck. We were all on the 39th floor. The place boasts 47 floors, of which, the top floor is a revolving restaurant. Evidently, food tastes better when you’re rotating.
However, it won’t spin unless you first buy a drink.
We had that thing whirling like a NASA centrifuge after its discovery the second night.
Yeah, all 12 of us are bivouacked on the 39th floor. A floor with approximately 30 rooms.
I guess we could have played “Room Roulette” and see who got which room and who’s luggage. Or we could switch every day or two to drive our handlers nuts. Or, we could just take our assigned rooms, which were conveniently located one empty room apart.
Meaning, no one had adjoining rooms. Why? Fuck if I know. We didn’t spend much time in our rooms, and that time was either sleeping or showering. We’d all meet at the bar, casino, restaurant, karaoke, bowling alley (all three lanes) or actual meeting rooms every once in a while when we thought we should get together and compare notes. It was the most inexplicable situation.
Plus, we spent an inordinate amount of time waiting on the fucking elevators to take us to our room. These elevators, and if you think you’re going to get a batch of aging senior scientists to schlep it up 39 floor’s worth of stairs, think again; are the slowest elevators in the civilized world. And that was the consensus of scientists representing not only Europe and North America, but Russia as well. 15-25 minutes added to each journey, up or down; stopping on every floor, except 5, on the way down..
Jesus Q. Fuck, dudes. If you can’t construct a bleedin’ elevator that works better than those at the Sozvezdie Medveditsy Guest House in Lesosibirsk, Eastern Siberia; then I suggest you seriously rethink your plans for world domination and new world order.
Grako and Erwin once, while waiting for the fucking elevator, figured out that we were earning some US$25 each just to wait for the lift to arrive and take us to our rooms. Every day. Sometimes several times per day.
With that, we all agreed to toss our “waiting time” funds into a kitty and on our last day of captivity here, blow it all in the hotel casino. Whatever became of that would be donated to the Koreans we thought most deserving of our largesse.
Would it be our handlers? How about the Korean Scientists we’d be meeting? The affable and most accommodating concierge? Or that plucky little Korean charwoman who was always on our floor and kept everything spotless, right down to our freshly laundered and pressed field clothes and newly polished field boots; done without our requesting or knowledge?
Only time would tell.
It could be a fortune or it could be bupkiss. Just like our expectations of the Heavenly Kingdom where we were currently sequestered.
As it was, with our official protestations, they kept only photocopies of our passports as we roundly refused and threatened a full-scale karaoke battle right here in the lobby if they didn’t relinquish our passports immediately. I had broken out my nastiest cigar and was primed to offend.
With that, we all had our keys and trooped over to the elevators for our first, of many, inexplicable waits. We made many uncharitable and potentially nasty remarks about the Anti-Western posters that made up some of the wall décor. Once we finally made it to our floor, we all fanned out to find our rooms. Viv found his first and was quite pleased to report to the rest of us that there was a “Welcome” basket in his room.
We all hoped that we would be receiving one a well.
I was in room 3914; which I considered a close call, but later only wondered as there was no 3913. Upon entering, I saw it was 1980s Hotel 6 opulent, but with an excellent over-city view. True it was late, dark, and the city was only somewhat lit up; I was looking forward to the view of the town in full daylight.
The room had a ‘king’ bed; that is if the king in question was Tutankhamen, the stubby, Egyptian boy king. The bed had no mattress pad and no box spring but it was hard enough for my liking. Many of my compatriots didn’t agree and complained bitterly. They eventually received thin mattress pads for all their kvetching.
There was an ancient Japanese color television, which only had 2 English language channels - Al Jazeera and the BBC, which was on a dated news loop. Watching the local channel is amusing though; the ads for ‘personal enhancements’ were hilarious, even without understanding a word of the language.
There were a couple of chairs and a low table, built-in dresser drawers for our clothes, a rusty and probably unusable room safe with corroded batteries, a small table built out of the wall that would serve as my travel office, and would-you-believe, a rotary telephone; how’s that for nostalgia?
There was an old-model radio built into the nightstand next to the bed. I was very surprised to find it not only received AM, FM but shortwave as well. I had brought along a pair of Bose headphones and during some rainy down days, spent many fun-filled, and I mean that sincerely, hours DXing from the comfort of my ‘enormous’ king bed.
Beyond that, the room was very nondescript. Like any other of the millions of rooms in hotels around the world that unlike here, aren’t claiming a 5-star rating. I mean, it was clean, if not a little long in the tooth. But didn’t smell too terrible, even after I took care of that with my Camacho offerings. It was utilitarian, everything worked, even the water pressure, which surprisingly could strip off layers of one’s skin if you weren’t careful.
The bathroom, though no Jacuzzi, had a large enough bathtub for the occasional soaking period. Western accouterments in the bathroom were also welcome additions. My knees can’t handle the traditional squat-holes any longer.
There were an electric teapot and several brands of tea, but no coffee. A quick “Gee! I sure wish I had some coffee!” to the four walls and damned if 30 minutes later, a porter didn’t arrive to replenish my tea and courtesy in-room coffee…
There was a small Japanese brand in-room refrigerator which I thought might house a mini-bar. Oh, no! It was actually a complimentary larder stocked with all sorts of Best Korean goodies. Multiple cans of Taedonggang beer. Several bottles of Pyongyang Soju, in various flavors ranging anywhere from 16.8 to 53 percent alcohol by volume. My fridge was skewed towards the right-hand side of the bell curve; the more heavy-duty boozy side.
Evidently, my reputation had preceded me again.
There was a selection of German-style wheat beers from the Taedonggang Brewery and the more familiar ales, steam beers, and lagers. There were some imported beers like Heineken, Bavaria, Pils, a couple of Japanese brands: Asahi and Kirin, and something called ‘Hello Beer’ from Singapore.
There were also ‘sampler’ bottles of Apricot Pit wine, and a couple of high-alcohol fruity liquors made from constituents such as apple or pear, and mushrooms. There were also special medicinal liquors like ‘Rason’s Seal Penis Liquor’.
That is going home with me unopened.
There were a couple of bottles of local sake, called Chonju. Finally, there was a couple ‘samplers’ of homemade alcohol known as Makkoli. Plus there was something called ‘Corn Grotto’, which for the life of me, looks and tastes much like a very passable Kentucky Sippin’ Bourbon.
I put our concierge on instant danger money the very next day. He’s yet to source me more than a fifth of the stuff so far.
I found that there is a popular drink here which mirrors the Yorsch of Mother Russia. Beer and soju can be mixed to create *somaek’; a foamy, frothy, funky drink of many flavors, depending on the soju chosen.
Is ethnoimbibology at thing? The science of how different cultures drink and the effects of drinking culture on different societies. If not, now I have another Ph.D. to pursue after I endow a chair at some likely Asian university.
Anyways, in everyone’s room was a “welcome” basket, just chock full of Best Korean goodies. Postcards, stamps, ads for coin sets, stamp proofs and other goodies that could be purchased at the hotel. There was a field notebook, which I thought was a very nice addition, newspapers, cookies, crackers, biscuits, candies, fruit drinks, and some fresh fruit; although tamarind chewies and durian chips aren’t on my list of personal favorites.
There were a couple of tour books, just chock full of staged photos. These were very nice as well, as so far, we haven’t had much time for shopping outside of government stores or smaller family-run shops in town or out in the boonies.
A few of us were hungry and decided to see what the hotel had to offer room service-wise.
Bupkiss.
But, they did have a selection of restaurants. There is a Chinese restaurant, a European restaurant, and a Korean restaurant on site but they all serve the same food...a Best Korean attempt at western food. And it was weird being the only ones in the restaurant even though it was fully staffed.
We grazed lightly and decided to do some late-night perambulations around our hotel. Our handlers admonished us to stay within the confines of the hotel, or see them if it was absolutely necessary to go walkabout. In the hotel, we were on our own.
We found that there were tunnels in the hotel’s basement. The basement tunnels were a real bonus. There’s a bar with pool tables, a karaoke room, bowling, and a massage parlor, where I was beaten and pummeled into submission by tiny, diminutive, little Korean lassies fully 1/5th my size.
It was wonderful.
There was a hairdresser’s, who were completely befuddled by my shoulder-length silver-gray locks and full gray Grizzly Adams beard. They did provide a lovely shampoo/cranial massage though for the equivalent of US$2.
There were a couple of shops selling Chinese goods rather than local stuff, which was sort of disappointing, a cold noodle bar, and another casino. No shops selling Korean Communist propaganda posters, as I wanted to augment my Soviet-era collection. Perhaps I’ll find something in-country later on.
We were shocked to find that the casino had WiFi that was uncensored and we were able to access; after a fee of liquor miniatures and a cigar or two. We were supposed to have access to the global internet, not local intranet, from the universities that we would be visiting. However, all of that was under the heavily squinting eyes of handlers and guys in shiny suits wearing fake Ray-Bans.
I still had my secret satellite internet lash-up available, but that was iffy, a pain in the ass to set up, and ridiculously expensive. However, it did work on the 39th floor and the times I used it instead of wandering down to the tunnels, no one appeared to be the wiser. Thus far.
So typically, we’d just head to the basement casino with our laptops, iPads, and phones. Bam! Robert’s your Sister’s Husband, we could connect more-or-less free with the outside world; hence how you are reading this now.
Herro! “Yes, I’d sure like another beer. This time a porter, if you please.”
The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain. Or the more they put into locks, the easier they are to pick.
Besides, we were told we’d have access to unfettered and free internet. OK, so we just found it for ourselves. Whaddya expect? We’re scientists, motherfucker, back off.
Ahem.
Back to reality.
The breakfast buffet the next morning had a wide choice of Asian and Western food, although the choices seemed to be the same every day. The main event was to beat the Chinese tourists to the egg station every morning. Breakfast always included fried eggs, a limited selection of pork, kippered fish, potatoes, rice, fruit, and a very Titanium-dioxide-white white bread
After a while, I took to going to the small market behind the lobby, buying some imported Chinese or Japanese nibbly bits and heading to the tunnels for a few breakfast beers before the long hard day’s work. It took almost a week, but I gained the trust of some of the workers in the tunnels and they showed me the on-site microbrewery at the hotel. It produced very passable, and very, very cheap beers of several varieties.
Liquid bread. Beer. Is there nothing it can’t do?
After breakfast our first day at the hotel, we were told to meet in the Conference Room “Il-sung” as we were going to have a ‘Welcome foreign imperialist scientists’ introduction and indoctrination.
Besides our handlers and the shiny-suit squad, there were several Korean folks we didn’t recognize. These were students, scientists, and scholars from the Kim Chaek University of Technology, Kim Il-sung University, the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology; all hailing from Pyongyang, and the University of Geology from North Hwanghae Province.
“Oh, marvelous”, Erlen remarked, “It’s going to be a bloody Chautauqua. We’ll be here all day.”
“Well”, I replied, “It could be worse. We could be on a bus headed off on another unscheduled road trip.”
As we found our seats, our Korean counterparts were busily setting up portable screens, like the ones your grandfather had for showing his 2.1 Googleplex worth of travel slides every Christmas or Thanksgiving get-together. They had a couple of ancient Chinese brand laptops that could have doubled for body armor, they were so thick and heavy.
While they fiddled with running cords for the overhead projectors and 16mm film projector; yes, it was going to be movie time as well, the hotel’s restaurant folks wheeled in carts laden with scones, cupcakes, and other sweet sorts of bakery. Another cart was wheeled in with pump-pots of hot water, tea, and coffee. Usual scientific meeting fare.
There was one final cart that made the day bearable. It held a pony keg of hotel micro-brewed beer on ice, with several dozen frosty mugs available for all who wanted to partake.
There were instantly 12 mugs that were spoken for.
I grabbed a cold beer and wandered around the conference room, sipping beer, chewing on an unlit cigar, and just trying to be pleasant to our hosts and their scientific guests. I was surprised when one North Korean professor, who spoke amazingly British-tinged English, offered me a light for my cigar.
“Is smoking allowed here?” I asked.
“Allowed?” he laughed heartily, “My good man, it’s practically a prerequisite.”
“Here then”, I said, offering him a nice, unctuous Camacho, “Try one of mine.”
Dr. P'ung Kwang-Seon of the North Korean University of Geology became my instant and lifelong friend at that moment.
We had a very nice chat, much to the chagrin of the gray suit cadre, who could hear what we were talking about, but probably didn’t understand anything beyond every 8th word.
After a while, we were asked to take our seats, after refreshing our drinks, and introduced to the group of Korean geoscientists we’d be interacting with during our stay here in Best Korea.
I tried to record every name, but between the students, other scholars, and professors from the various universities, I decided I’d ask for a list of participants once the day had worn on. After all, they had all our names, references, and resumes if the thick folio they kept referring to was any indication.
There were a couple of hours of introductions, as every one of the Korean geoscientists there introduced themselves, mostly through translators, told of their personal area of specialty, and their latest work.
Most were what would be considered geoscientists, but oddly enough, not one that you would consider a petroleum geoscientist, however tangentially.
There were geomorphologists, structural geologists, petrologists, mineralogists, marine geologists, engineering geologists, and seismologists. However, there were no stratigraphers, sedimentologists, paleontologists, or geochemists. We were all geoscientists, but apart from the obvious Korean:English disparity, it was as if we spoke different scientific languages as well.
That would be our first hurdle to overcome.
They had no oil industry here; none whatsoever, therefore why one would bother with the geosciences that fed directly into petroleum? That, in and of itself, would make it difficult to explore for oil in the country. Couple that with the fact that they’re so insular, think their version of ‘science’ is the best, at least that’s the official line, and think all other’s ‘science’ is capitalistic, substandard, and inferior doesn’t bode well for your country discovering anything either oily or gassy.
We were having another conclave around the beer keg, ack, err…a ‘coffee break’ and I mentioned this fact to my scientific colleagues.
“Guys”, I need input here, “We’re going to get precisely nowhere if they won’t even acknowledge that they have major problems from the start.”
Ivan replies, “Very true. I’ve seen this before back home. You get a group so entrenched in their own little corner of science, they can’t even accept or acknowledge that others exist. Not only exist but actually know more about a certain problem than do you.”
Dax joins the fray, “Sure, that’s very true, but who’s going to tell them this unfortunate fact? They could take that as a personal, national, and global insult. Imagine you’re at an international conference and a bunch of foreigners walk in just to tell you you’ve been doing it all wrong for the last 75 years.”
I add, “Remember, though. These characters are scientists as well. I think it’ll be a good measure of seeing what sort of science and scientist we’re dealing with here. If they are truly researchers, they’ll listen to and evaluate what we say as for veracity and accuracy. If they’re just a bunch of Commie goons; no offense, Comrade Academician Ivan, they’ll get all pissed off, kick us out, and we get to go home and enjoy our triple Force Majeure pay.”
Ivan walks over and deliberately steps on the toes of my newly polished field boots.
“In Soviet Russia, field boots walk on YOU.” He laughs in his heavily inflected, and scary, Soviet-era speech…
“Yes, I agree”, Joon adds, “But who is going to address this issue with our hosts? Perhaps one of our Russian comrades, as they are, or were, more politically aligned with our Korean friends and perhaps best understand the issue?”
Ack speaks up, grinning maniacally, “No, I disagree. We should have the one person here who so encapsulates the ideologies and political leanings that they love to hate here so much. You know; the quiet, diminutive, and soft-spoken North American…”
Dax recoils, “Oh, no! I’m not going out in front of this mob of ornery Orientals…”
I smile wanly and tell Dax to cool out.
“Relax, Dax. They’re talking about me.”
“Oh, yes”, a collective group of voices replies, “Yes. Let out fearless Team Leader break the bad news to our Eastern Colleagues. That way we can gauge their reactions to being bounced around scientifically by a member of the Evil Capitalist Cartel.”
“OK”, I reply, “I’ll do it. But be forewarned, my fine feathered fiends. I get stuck on a topic that’s not precisely my bailiwick, I’m going to throw your ass to the wolves. Remember, we’re all in this together.”
Whoops, and catcalls were reduced to mumbles and ‘Aw, fucks.’.
Chautauqua resumption was called and I asked for the floor.
It was a bit off the agenda, but since they’ve been chewing the air for the last several hours, they understood it would be appropriate for us to at least try and get a word in edgewise.
I downed my beer, and grabbed a fresh one as what I was going to say was going to be harsh, cut-and-dried, and rather pointed. But delivered in a pleasant manner.
I hoped.
This all had to be filtered through a series of translators, one for general conversational Korean and another for the more technical and scientific transliterations. I realized I was going to be up here for a while. So, I brought a cigar.
One way or another, I was going to deliver our pronouncements and hell, I may as well be comfortable while doing it.
.
“Greetings and felicitations, my Eastern Colleagues. Let me first say how nice it is to be here in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea as part of the ….”
I’m going to fast-forward through all the flowery bullshit and introductory happiness; I’ll going to just cut to the guts of the matter.
“…Now, you do know why there has been virtually no oil, gas nor any other hydrocarbon related deposit discovered here in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea?” I asked by way of a rhetorical question.
I sipped my beer and lit my cigar. In for a chon, in for a won.
I let the buzzing subside on the side of our eastern counterparts.
“Because, and please do not take this as insulting or derogatory, but as a statement of irrefutable fact, no one with the proper training nor experience has been looking. You’re historically guilty of applying the science incorrectly and letting dogma and politics guide your search, instead of the scientific method and the facts. Geology, like all natural science, is just as truth based on the facts for a capitalist as it is for a communist. Reality is not influenced by your beliefs, be they scientific or political, secular or spiritual, ‘trusted’ rather than ‘thought’; any more than by your wish that it wouldn’t rain today during a raging thunderstorm.”
Little Boy over Hiroshima was dropped with less effect.
Our Democratic People's Republic of Korea colleagues erupted into a chaotic mixture of stuttering, internecine yelling, accusations, and sputtering.
Calling for decorum, I figured that since I was this far gone, I may as well push the plunger all the way to the bottom.
“Gentlemen, I do not denigrate the science of geology as taught and practiced here in Best Korea.” I actually said that, sort of a slip of the tongue. Continuing, “However, one would not fish for Bluefin tuna from a rowboat in a pond with a fly rod. One does not hunt bear in the city with a slingshot. Just as one doesn’t search for oil and gas with mining engineers, geomorphologists, and seismologists.”
I let that sink in and after the translation, they calmed a bit and wanted to hear the rest of what I had to say. I could sense a couple was less than thrilled with what I had to say, but forging onward…
“One fishes for Bluefin tuna in the deep ocean with huge rods, reels and a specialist boat captained by someone with deep experience in hunting the elusive fish. One hunts bear in the proper environment, the taiga or forest, with the proper tools and guided by one with the education, learnedness, and experience to know how to make the hunt come out successful.”
Hit them with some analogies they can relate to and digest. Now, go for the carotid.
“Just like one does not hunt oil and gas without stratigraphers, sedimentologists, geophysicists, petrophysicists, and other oil and gas experts who have the education, experience, and knowledge to know where to look. Knowing which environment looks most conductive to hide your quarry, if you’ll pardon the pun, and how best to find them, the guys who know how to corral and de-risk them once you find them, and the engineers and technologists who know how to bring them to the surface so they can be utilized.”
They had stopped being irritated and were listening in rapt attention.
“My colleagues and I have spent the last few days going over, in detail the geology of your country. There is nothing we can see that would preclude the development, entrapment, and preservation of economic quantities of oil and gas. Ture, the geology is quite complex as is the structural history of the entire peninsula. That’s one other thing you will have to accept. Geology doesn’t give the tiniest shit about political boundaries. One must look at the big picture, and that doesn’t stop at some man-made borders. Ignore that fact at your peril, because if you continue to view the geology here as not existing across political boundaries, you are preadapting yourself for failure.”
Drs. Ivan, Volna, and Morse make certain that everyone sees the ex-Soviets agreeing with the bushy-bearded, cigar-chomping American capitalist.
“So,” I said, hoping to bring this little spit-balling session to a fortuitous close, “If we can have an agreement; scientific agreement, on these points, then I am certain we can find a way forward with not only this discussion but the program we can devise for the best Korean (notice phase shift?) geologists to take the project forward both scientifically soundly and economically successful.”
My North Korean counterpart gets up from his seat in the conference room, goes to the keg, taps a couple of beers and walks up to the podium where I was standing.
“Thank you, Dr. Rocknocker, for saying what needed to be said”, he spoke in perfect English as he handed me a beer.
I grinned and gratefully accepted the beer.
“Why, Dr. Chang Kwang-Su”, I said, as that was his name, “You old fraud. You do speak English; and very well, I must add.”
“Yes, almost all of us do”, he relayed, “But, as you said, we are most reserved. We were more or less under orders of the ‘most illustrious’, to play coy, and act as if we spoke no English.”
“I see.” I said, “I’ve worked in several FSU countries as well as Russia and saw that there as well. I guess old habits die hard.”
“That they do, Doctor.”, he replied, “But, we must now tell you the truth. We knew exactly what you said is true, and we agree. We are not as totally insulated from the outside world as some suspect.”
“Well, I was going on what your superiors related to us. Like the police that had all their toilets stolen, I had nothing else to go on.” I replied.
“Ah, ha! Quite!”, he chuckled, “We had long suspected that we were lacking in certain areas of scholarship. What you said cements that fact as it was an independent conclusion. We can now present that to our superiors with the caveat that unless we bolster work and training in these areas, the hunt of hydrocarbon resources here will be for naught.”
“I am relieved”, I said, truthfully. “I was slightly concerned that some might take umbrage to being told their science is not up to specifications. I tried to be the bearer of that bad news but deliver it gently. Here, I find you need that to use that as a truncheon to smack one’s boss upside the head and tell him that an upgrade is required. And fast.”
“Ah, so”, he replies, “We are in total agreement. Now that is out of the way, we would appreciate it if you’d help in designing a course of study for up and coming local geoscientists. Then, we can go forward with a great plan to search for oil and gas here in…Korea. Correct?”
“Absolutely”, I remarked, “You’ve got over 400 man-years of science and exploration expertise here in this room alone. Let’s shoot for the moon, so to speak. Let’s get you up to speed on scientific journals and articles that are available out there in all of academia and industry. Let’s get you communicating on a global basis. Let’s prove that you can talk science with global scientists and still not have it affect your political or nationalistic aspirations one little bit. Let’s see if we can drag you, figuratively speaking, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century.”
“Doctor”, Dr. Chang remarked, “You are the embodiment of what we were always told what Americans are. Brash, loud, confident, and evil. Except for evil, you are American as we were led to believe.”
“Hey, I take that as a compliment”, I exclaim. “You think that’s bad, I’ve got a bunch of earnest Europeans, raucous Russians, and a couple of cagey Canadians on my side as well. Before we’re finished here, we’ll have you ordering hachee, dining on Caldo Verde, snacking on salmiakki, drinking Russkaya vodka with Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, eating poutine, and rooting for the Packers.”
“Doctor, I don’t know what half of that means, but I hope it comes to pass. It sounds most fascinating.” Dr. Chang chuckles.
The rest of the day was spent with various groups crystallizing and breaking off from the main crowd; then reforming as different groups. This was good, as it showed an interest across not only national borders but across ideologies and scientific specialties.
Most everyone here spoke English with some degree of fluency, so the translators were called in only occasionally.
I made certain they were included in everything that transpired that day. I want everyone to feel ‘part of the team’. How better to show the classlessness of Western science to include everyone in on both sides of every discussion and activity?
To be continued…
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DEMOLITION DAYS, Part 47

continuing
As I was picking myself up off the shooter’s shack floor, I glanced over to the TV.
The ballplayers were all wandering around the field, looking skyward. Evidently, there was this hellacious explosion…even the television sports commentators were speculating as to what happened.
Whoops.
I looked out into the quarry. The wall that I had charged had receded some 75 feet.
There was rather a large amount of shattered, blasted dolomitic limestone now in the quarry. Enough, I found out later, for a full month’s worth of orders.
We never did find the blasting mats. I think they sort of evaporated.
Luckily, the quarry is essentially an open amphitheater in plan view; basically a big hole in the ground with vertical limestone walls. The shockwave of the blast that didn’t spend itself shattering the limestone into which it was housed, blew out laterally, hit the opposite quarry wall, rebounded, and then dispersed, rather energetically, vertically upward.
I set off car alarms for a 20 block radius.
There were no broken home windows, as the lion’s share of the shock wave was redirected upward.
Good thing there were no low flying zeppelins or dirigibles in the area...
I waited the requisite time to allow for any loafers. There were none, so I jumped into the nearest wheel loader and began clearing the quarry floor. Hell, I had to so I could open the front gate.
As I was clearing the floor, making pile number eight of the loose rock I had liberated, I heard the characteristic whoop-whoop of emergency vehicles.
I parked the wheel loader, opened the front gate, and raised the green flag. That was enough blasting for one day.
A few minutes later, three police cars zoom into the site. Two were local city cops, and one was a state trooper.
“Hi, guys!” I waved, “Nice day, innit?”
“Doctor Rock! We should have known.” One of the local boys groaned.
“Hey, I did call you beforehand, as per procedure,” I said.
Polack the cop walks up, just knowing I was responsible. “Yeah, but we didn’t figure on you terrorizing the entire city.”
“Polack! How goes it?” I asked.
The other local cop and the state trooper look to Polack, “You know this maniac?”
“Oh, hell yeah. For years. Don’t worry, the good doctor is mostly harmless.” He chuckles.
“Damn. OK. I guess everything’s OK. Just no more shooting today, please, Doctor. It’s going to take hours to calm everyone down.” He laments.
“Yes, sir. I’m done for the day.” I reply, snickering slightly.
The one local and state trooper depart, shaking their heads in amazement. This left Polack to follow me over to the shooter’s shack to mooch a cigar and whatever else he can find.
“Jesus Hula-Dancing Christ, Rock. What the hell was that? I was all the way out in Whitewatosa and heard you.” He asks as he sneakily snakes a smoke out of my case.
“Just some common chemicals in the proper proportions.” I snicker.
“Which were?” he asks.
I go in the back of the shed and toss him an empty container of one of the parts of the binaries I used. He catches it, reads the label, and drops it like a live grenade.
“Binaries? Fuck! Like what you used at the tower?” he asks.
“Yep. I used just a little more.” I reply.
“Little more? Damn, as I said, we’ve been briefed on the stuff. This shit’s nasty.” He shakes his head.
“Yeah. Fun, too.” I reply.
Polack grabs a Sprechler’s Cream Soda out of the fridge as I opt for a cold Cream Ale and shot of potato juice. Hell, I was done for the day, so…
We sit around and have a chat, just shooting the shit, as it were. Manly topics, so the conversation eventually steered over to guns.
“Hey!” Polack remembers, “That’s right! You fucking owe me. Let me borrow that fucking cannon you carry. I want to show the chief a thing or two.”
“Yeah, that’s right”, I agree, “When do you need it?”
“This Friday, after shift. It’s the monthly qualifiers for us.” He notes.
“Are pyromaniacs allowed in?” I ask.
“To observe? Sure. To shoot? Nope. Insurance regulations.” He says.
“What time?” I continue.
“1800 hours.” He tells me.
“I’ll be there. I’ll bring my gun and an assortment of loads. Hey, this could be fun!” I evilly smile.
“Doctor. You’re doing that thing again. You’re grinnin’ like a shithouse rat. You know how much that scares me. Stop it.” He pleads.
“No worries. Friday at 1800 hours.” I reply, grinning.
Polack slurps down his Sprechlers, snitches another stogie, and squeals out of the quarry in a cloud of dense dolomitic dust.
I arrive back at our flat, after stopping for two frozen custard Turtle Sundaes, to go. I give one to an appreciative wife and I ask her about her day.
“Oh, went shopping with Oma. Got the cutest shoes, and a new purse, and…oh well, never mind. You’ll see.”
Between bites of Turtle Sundae, she asks how my day went.
“Oh, my dear. I had a real blast.” I replied, not lying in the least.
Monday, after my first classes, I’m back in the faculty lounge, savoring a Greenland Coffee.
There was the usual instructor chatter when Dean Vermiculari walks in.
“Good morning, Dean!” I say. “Care for a sit-down and a coffee?”
“Good morning, Doctor Rock. Yes, please to both.” He replies.
I fix us both a fresh Greenland Coffee and return to our table. I hand him one and sit down to savor my soupçon.
“How was your weekend?” I ask the Dean of the College.
“Oh, very nice. Had a fine time catching some perch and crappie out on Lake Genever. I see you had a victorious weekend as well. Twice.” He smiles.
“Twice?” I asked.
“Well, your handling of the tower demolition made all the papers. Very, very well done, Doctor. I congratulate you.” He smiles.
“Thank you, Dean. That means a lot. Just doing what I can with what I’ve got. But twice?” I replied.
“It wasn’t front-page news, but I saw there was some, well, let us just say, ‘energetic activity’ out at the Silurian reef limestone quarry yesterday.” He grinned.
“Oh, yes. I had a job to do and well, as I always say: ‘Nothing succeeds like excess.” I smile back.
“Quite. This beverage you’ve created is really rather extraordinary, Doctor. Again, I thank you.” He tips his mug my direction in the age-old Midwestern salute.
“It’s a little recipe I picked up on my last expedition to the northlands. I grew rather fond of the concoction.” I replied.
“Ah, I see. Marvelous.” He smiles.
“Thank you, Dean. High praise indeed.” I reply.
“Which leads me to…ah, Doctor Rock. I have another favor to impose upon you.” He says, all serious.
“Yes, Dean? How can I be of service?” I ask.
“We, as you no doubt know, have many, many fine extractive mineral company connections. We actually receive quite a large amount of funding and endowments from them. They recruit here extensively for our young geoscientists. Now, since Dr. Pataariki has left for industry himself, I would like to appoint you as the College of Natural Sciences corporate liaison.” He explains.
“Indeed?” I replied, too stunned for words for once.
“Yes, indeed.” He continues, “It will require travel, mostly domestic, and delivering symposia at various companies on differing extractive geological subjects. You will also serve as host and university coordinator when they are present on recruiting tours. There will, of course, be additional remuneration to accompany the added responsibilities.”
I slurped my coffee, thinking furiously.
“Could I please first discuss it with my wife before I answer?” I ask.
“Oh, Doctor. Of course, of course. Take your time. I will not require a reply until… tomorrow.” He smiles, finishes his coffee, thanks me again, and toddles out.
“Yow, Es!” I exclaim, “This is one hell of an opportunity. It’s never before been offered to a junior professor. This will cement my tenure-track. It’s going to be a bitch with time, though. What do you think I should do?”
“Well, Rock, honey, I think you should do…” Es begins.
“No! None of that ‘do what you think is best’ stuff. I want your own thoughts, just like when I decided to go after my doctorate.” I explained.
“OK, then.” Esme looks all serious like she’s going to deliver a bipartisan political speech.
“Yes.” She says, firmly
“That’s it?” I ask.
“Yep. You asked I answered. We’ll make it work. We always do. You can’t let the Dean down. You will accept tomorrow without fear or qualms of your wife’s hesitations, of which I harbor none.” Esme proclaims.
“Did I ever tell you of the myriad reasons I love you so?” I ask.
The next morning I meet with Dean Vermiculari. He’s pleased that I accept and hands over to me the charter. Then the lists of company representatives, their contact information, and some other secret stuff that I can’t divulge right yet.
A raft of oil companies will be coming in the late spring semester, so I need to contact each and every one to solidify dates, times and positions for which they’re recruiting. But that’s for then, I have something more proximal for now.
I have a Friday appointment with Polack the cop at the town police shooting range.
I arrive spot on time with my Casull .454 Magnum pistol, in its carry bag, along with a small duffel crammed with Pyrodex, Tannerite, and selection of specialty loads I had Herman the German, the inveterate gunsmith, create.
Herman the German, his actual sobriquet, was this incredible gunsmith, craftsman, and all-around artillery specialist. Have any sort of problem with a rifle, shotgun, or pistol? See Herman. Gun holding too high? See Herman. Barrel warped? See Herman. Need solid gold projectiles for a certain one-off job? See Herman.
Herman the German can sort it out.
Just never ask him: “How?”
“Ach! I’ve lived so long to learn, and you want it free? I’ll fix it, you pay, but I am only one knowing how!”
Herman was a cranky old Kraut, and has lived here for as long as anyone can remember. Even my Grandfather had deferred to Herman when he had some particularly delicate machining operation that need special attention and was unique.
As far as anyone knew, Herman had no family, but was never at a loss for friends. He was one of the most popular, and well known, but still oddly really unknown, kind of mysterious, old bastards in the entire community.
Herman the German liked me because I could obtain for him certain high-energy things he couldn’t. All were entirely legal, but some were sort of out there in the gray zone.
He also liked that I was educated, as he held education in the highest esteem. He also liked that I was of German extraction myself.
I often made it a point to drop by with odd and unusual high-octane potables while never expecting anything in return other than a story or a shared cigar.
Herman created some special loads for my .454 Magnum, which he prized.
“I like your gun, Doctor Rock, it is so big! I can still see well enough to build things for it.” He told me one day over cheroots and Schnapps.
Herman was a character to be certain. It must have been the pixie in him to dream up some of the specialty rounds he created for me to share with the local constabulary.
He lived out in the county by himself in an old farmhouse. He had a full machine shop in his basement, complete with forge, metal handling equipment, and a firing test range.
He handed back my .454, rather solemnly.
“Doctor, I am afraid to say I couldn’t test all the special rounds I’ve created for you. I need to patch the hole in the cinder blocks in the downstairs range. Your gun punched right through the back…” he apologized.
Now, Herman does all sorts of work on the local’s deer rifles, the police’s ordinance and has even worked some with the Baja Canada National Guard. Some of the little novelties he’s dreamed up for me are the first to escape his homemade basement test range.
I felt oddly honored.
After proving who I was to the nice range officer, I looked around trying to find Polack.
“It’s 1550. Where the hell is Polack? I wondered.
“Rock! Over here.” Polack calls to me.
He motions me outside to the police department’s tactical outdoor range. I had thought all along he was referring to the indoors police target range. This might pose some problems.
The tactical range was a series of clapboard shacks, all setup and designed to represent some downtrodden urban inter-city landscape. There were a couple of junked cars, broken sidewalks, storefronts, houses, bus stops…in short, all things necessary to replicate the seediest sections of a settlement where malefactors live and breed.
The cops all run around this range, shooting at bad guy pop-up cut-outs and avoid the not-bad-guy pop-up cut-outs. They’ve got music blaring, firecrackers going off, all trying to re-create a shady deeply urban environment. Points are awarded by the accuracy of fire on the run, time to maneuver the course, and the ability of not gunning down innocent bystanders.
It is not the best place to test a .454 Cusall. This hand cannon recoils like a fundamentalist Christian being solicited for donations to Anton LaVey, shoots flames and incandescent gasses like Smaug after a hard night of drinking and a stop at the Taco Bell buffet, is louder than a dime-store Karen demanding to see a Manager, and more powerful than a Ghost Pepper suppository.
To quote Joe Piscopo: “It shoots through schools.” Especially faux-schools made of plywood.
A .32 or .38 cop special is the correct weapon here; even a 9mm is a little heavy. Enough power to make a serious dent, easy on control, light on the recoil…a good tactical weapon.
But, nothing succeeds like excess.
Polack’s Chief is running around, capping off his ‘big ol’ .44 Magnum, and making the valley echo. He punches considerable holes in the pop-up cut-outs, but has such a hard time handling the recoil, his score is barely passable.
Polack runs his test with his standard 9mm sidearm and qualifies easily. However, he’s nowhere near done with his Chief yet.
I suggest to Polack we have a shoot-off. And since a .44 Magnum bullet ‘is so close to a .454 Magnum’, which it isn’t…the .454 Casull generates nearly 85% more recoil energy than the .44 Magnum; that we’d need something other than holes punched in plywood to judge the efficacy of each.
We are literally just down the road from Max Yazzer’s farm and market. They’re the place you go for your Halloween jack-o-lantern. However, now, he has a surplus of melons.
I think you can see where this is headed…
I borrow Polack’s personal conveyance and run down to Max’s farm. I return with a trunk-load of elderly, overripe, cheap as chips, melons. Watermelons, Honeydews, Musks, and Casabas.
We place them in strategic areas on the course, five for the Chief to find, and five for Polack.
A .44 vs. a .454 melon-wise results in pretty much the same sort of mess: high-velocity fruit spatter. Although, the Chief was very impressed by the report of the .454. So, after running the tactical-melon course, clear demarcation of a winner was elusive.
OK, OK, clever dicks. How about this? A standing shoot-off? We’ll set up 3 melons each at 30, 20, and 10 yards. Beginning at 30 yards, your time will be until you take out all three melons. But, they’re not going to be in a straight line, we’re going to make them somewhat camouflaged. You will stand in one small demarcated area, hunt those miscreant melons, and bring them to justice. Fastest time and greatest display wins, as determined by the Police Peanut Gallery.
Polack and the Chief agree.
The Chief goes first and dispatches the melons, with a fair amount of spatter, in 15.3 seconds.
Not bad.
Polack is next. He wipes out all the melons and creates some thoroughly impressive displays with Herman’s ‘special’ rounds. Normal ballistics for the .454 are, for a 250 grain (16 g) bullet, a muzzle velocity of over 2,400 feet per second, developing up to 2,800 ft-lb of energy.
Herman’s hot loads are double that.
Polack wins the day on impressive high-velocity melon distribution, but misses, so close, with a time of 17.0 seconds.
Recoil’s a bitch.
Then there are Herman’s ‘specialties’.
The Chief is duly impressed and even comments that his ears are ringing even with the ear protectors. He asks to inspect the weapon. He is even more than duly impressed.
Polack knows what’s up and asks the Chief if he’d like to give a whirl.
Of course, the Chief can’t back down.
Polack loads the .454 with 5 of Herman’s specialties: hollow-point rounds loaded hot, compressed, and tipped with alkaline earth metals, like metallic sodium and metallic potassium…
We set up the nastiest, glorpiest, just barely-holding-together, overripe, laced with Tannerite (an impact-actuated low-explosive) watermelon at the ‘Concealed Carry’ distance of 5 meters.
We slowly fade back into the distance to avoid the inevitable ‘Gallagher reaction’.
The Chief fires one, and just nicks the top of the melon. Don’t laugh, with the type of recoil and heft of the sidearm, and tensing up in anticipation, it’s easy to be off the mark initially.
The second round impacts dead-center. Now, alkaline earth metals and water don’t get along really well. In fact, their relationship is explosive. Especially explosive when delivered at 2,900 feet per second.
The Chief catches a huge smattering of vitamin-packed watermelony back blast goo.
He’s not entirely happy. He looks positively grisly with all that blown-up melon schmoo on his nice, neat uniform.
He returns my gun and bans me from ever showing up at the police range again.
Polack is on traffic duty for the next month.
He figures it was well worth it.
Back at the flat, Esme is shaking her head and wondering if I’ll ever grow up.
“I may grow old, but I’ll never grow up.” I reply.
I see I have several missed phone calls. Ah, me; no rest for the weary. Back to company-university liaison duties.
After I had contacted these companies, I receive no less than 12 requests for symposia, talks, and seminars to be given to various level of industrial scientific employees in their respective companies.
I am now slated to give academic conferences on stratigraphy, sedimentology, and seismic structural geology to different companies in Houston, Oklahoma City, Denver, Casper, Corpus Christi, New Orleans, and Tulsa. In the next 12 weeks, I’ll be giving no less than 8 talks in seven cities.
I speak with Dean Vermiculari on how best to handle the situation. He understands and appoints two graduate student teaching assistants to handle my classes while I’m on the road. That relieves me of being physically there, but I still have to grade papers, compose lesson plans, and keep things running smoothly until finals.
Besides giving the talks, there’s travel to oil fields, production facilitates, manufacturing plants, hotels, restaurants while I’m in town…the pace is excruciating. I’m gone more than I am at university. Plus in my time back home, I’m still the ad hoc master blaster for the limestone quarry.
Then, there’s the companies arriving on campus, and the roles are reversed. Now I’m the welcome wagon and have to sort out the logistics of receiving the company representatives. I need to set up the colloquia to introduce the companies to the prospective students, arrange lodging, arrange passes for the university, transportation, “Meet-and-Greet’s, ad infinitum.
I knew this was having a bit of effect on me when I came back to the flat after one particularly grueling ordeal of canceled flights, full hotels, missed connections and lukewarm reception by the company workers.
“Hello”, I said, as I walked in the flat, “I believe you have a reservation for…”
Esme just stood there, wondering if I was having a laugh.
No, I wasn’t. I was completely hallucinating from road weariness, lack of sleep, jet lag, and total disorientation. This continued on for the next approximately 18 months.
Esme was beginning to have second thoughts about all this.
My teaching load was diminished by one whole introductory course. However, I was still flying hither and yon, delivering symposia, meeting with young geoscientists and getting to know the ins-and-outs of the Oil Industry.
I found it particularly fascinating.
Time marched on and it was once again it was the recruiting season. We had no less than eight oil companies visiting the university in their quest to swell the roster of their junior scientists.
I’m still busier than a one-armed paperhanger in a windstorm, but have settled into a groove of sorts. I know the company recruiters and they now know me. I’ve actually struck up friendships with several. Particularly since I take them to the best local restaurants and bars after their recruiting duties are finished.
I’ve met with recruiting representatives of Shrill Petrol, Mexxon, Nobil, Nocono Oil, Flug, Geddy, Brutish Petroleum, and Qexaco.
The recruiting season is winding down and I find myself with Red (not Adair), of Nocono Oil.
“Well, Doctor Rock”, Red states, “Another fine recruiting run. We’ve snagged two of your young geologists and one geophysicist. I’d say it was almost a perfect score.”
We’re sitting in the Norton’s Steakhouse. After a couple of prime pink porterhouses, we’re working on the post-dinner double vodka and bitter lemon for me, and Lagavulin for Red.
“Almost perfect?” I ask.
“Yeah. There’s been this one small nagging concern from our company higher-ups.” Red continues.
“What’s that?” I ask.
“We need some more senior people. For one thing, we’ve recently opened a new petroleum laboratory down in our Houston office. Going to need some serious talent to run that show.” Red says.
“I see”, I reply, “And…?”
“We need mentors. Those with varied and far-flung knowledge. They must be well educated, global in experience and stature, with an [ahem] diverse set of skills.” Red notes.
“Whew”, I agree, “That’s a tall order. You want my help with names of possible candidates? Is that it?”
“Not as such, Doctor.” Red drains his drink, motions for me to do the same, and orders another round.
Our drinks arrive and Red downs half his in one gulp.
“Well, then”, I continue, “How can I help?”
Red chuckles, “For someone so educated, you can really be thick as two short planks at times.”
I sit back, and sip my Old Thought Provoker.
The mercury-vapors light off.
“No!” I say, incredulously.
“Oh, yes.” Red smiles.
“No?” I ask, slowly taking in the possible effects of what he’s hinting at…
“OK, Doctor Rocknocker”, Red gets all serious and corporate, “We’d like to offer you a position at Nocono Oil as Senior Laboratory Manager and Head of Corporate Continuing Education.”
You could have knocked me over with a grenade. I was stunned. I fumbled with my drink.
“Red, you old con artist” I reply, “Is this a set-up?”
Red, serious as a heart attack, looks directly at me and replies, “Doctor Rock, absolutely not, it’s a genuine offer.”
He slides over a folder with some papers inside. “Here are the particulars.”
Reeling, I accept the folder. I open it and right after the corporate logos and legal bullshit, I see a tall figure with a whole raft of zeros trailing behind it.
I read furiously. The job would be both interesting and challenging. It would be in Houston, with travel and teaching at all other company outposts on a regular basis. I reexamine that figure from before and verify that I’m not now hallucinating.
The job comes with furnished, corporate-paid housing, incredible benefits, loads of opportunity for advancement, more opportunity to travel, really generous vacation time…
“Right. On the level?” I ask again.
“Yep.” Red bluntly says.
“Well”, I gulp, “you know I have to discuss this with Esme”, whom he’s met several times previous.
“Of course, and you probably want to finish out the semester, correct?” red asks.
“Oh, yes.” I reply. There would be a monsoon of paperwork and other grunt work I’d need to conclude or hand over if I were to accept this offer.
“OK, then”, Red finishes his drink, motions for me to do the same, a real rarity; but I was in another dimension at this point. He orders another round and sits back, waiting on a refill.
“You have two weeks to reply” Red states.
“I know that’s not a terribly long time, but we need to fill this position ASAP. Can I ask for that? Your answer, yea, or nay, within a fortnight?” Red demands.
“Yes”, I reply. “I at least owe you that.”
And that was the end of the discussion for the night about me joining the private sector. We stayed a few more hours, chatting, smoking my cigars, and discussing everything but the lumbering elephant in the room.
We part outside as I need to head back to our flat. Red wants to go downtown to one of those “Gentleman’s Clubs” he’s heard were so famous at the time.
I was flummoxed the whole cab ride home.
It was late when I returned, but I simply had to wake Es with the news.
“Rock, for pity’s sake, its 2 o’clock in the morning!” Es protests. “Can’t this wait until later?”
“Sorry, my dear” I reply, probably as serious as I ever had with Esme. “This is a potential game-changer.”
“What is it? Are you OK?” Esme trembles.
“Oh, I’m fine. Better than fine.” I reply.
She’s relieved.
“Then what’s so important?” she asks.
“Um…how would you like to move to Houston?” I ask.
“You going to teach at Cougar High (University of Houston)?” she inquires.
“Nope. Brace yourself. I’ve been offered a job with Nocono Oil.” I finally spill the beans.
Esme is slightly stunned and sits down.
I go to the wet bar, fix me a bracing potato juice and citrus and Esme a stiff white Zinfandel.
I hand her the wine and she is still semi-dazed and digesting the information.
I slurp a good portion of my drink, retrieve her Sobranjes and me a cigar from my Turkmenistan humidor.
I sit on the couch next to her and hug her soundly.
“Esme? Es? Earth to Es? You in there?” I joke.
“Oh, Yeah. Rock. Really? Hang on”, she leaves, returning with her housecoat as this might take a little time.
“So?” I ask, “Your thoughts. Now! Immediately! Initial reaction!” I try to jar her back into reality.
“Well, what do you want?” she asks.
“C’mon, my dearest. You know I hate that. No, what do you think? What do you honestly think?” I reply.
We both fire up our smokes, and I refresh our drinks. We return to the dinner table where Red’s folder lies.
“Es, here. Look at this.” I say, sliding the portfolio over to her.
She reads like a hungry man at a Vegas casino buffet. I can tell where she was stopped by something extraordinary.
“This is for real?” she asks, “Red’s not pulling a fast one?”
“Nope. It’s the genuine article”, I tell her, “He needs my reply within two weeks.”
“Rock, Rock…I just don’t know. It’s a lot to process at 0230 in the morning. Let’s go to bed and have a think in the morning. You have the luxury of at least that amount of time.” She notes.
“Right again, as usual”, I say, “Stuff it. It can wait.” We toddle off to bed.
The next morning, over Cuban omelets and Greenland Coffees, we sort through the particulars.
“Rock, it’s an extraordinary offer. But, do you want to leave teaching? I remember how you got all animated by Dean Vermiculari giving you the corporate liaison job and how that would improve your shot at tenure.” She notes.
“I just don’t know. I’m still shell-shocked.” I tell her. “Let me go to school and we’ll pick this up tonight. We both have work to do no matter what. Oh, bloody hell. I hadn’t considered your job. Another wrinkle in the mess.”
“Don’t you worry about that”, Esme smiles. “One catastrophe at a time.”
“I do so love you.” I hug her soundly. “Think I should mention this offer to anyone at school?”
“No. Definitely not.” Esme shakes her head. “Let’s figure this out on our own.”
“I agree”, I say, kiss her and depart for school once again.
The next week was a blur. Recruiting duties were dragging and I was being preoccupied.
Even my students noted the lack of in-room explosions lately.
I spend the next Saturday at the quarry, doing some small amount of blasting. I quiz the quarry owners about their progress in acquiring a new master for the quarry’s operation.
“Oh, Doctor Rock” they gush, “You’re doing such a fine job, we haven’t really looked. Why do you ask?”
“No particular reason at this time, I reply, “But perhaps you might want to begin looking”
The chinks in my armor were finally starting to show.
Sunday was spent out on Sliver Lake, with Esme and me chasing the elusive crappie, perch, and bucketmouth bass. It also gave us a chance to clear our heads from work, school and other such intrusions. We both needed a bit of downtime.
Later that night, after a meal of beer-battered fillet of crappie and perch on the barbie, we sit down at the dinner table.
The portfolio sits there, taunting us.
I get up, makes us both our drinks, sit down and declare that this is it.
“Es, darling” I say, “its nut-cuttin’ time. We need to make our decision.”
“You’re right.” Es agrees, “Time for risk-reward analysis. Get some paper and some pencils.”
We spend the next few hours listing the pros and cons of accepting the Houston position or staying here and pursuing my tenured professorship.
After several hours, I stretch, stand, and go to the fridge. I retrieve the bottle of Bollinger Les Vieilles Vignes Francaises I had purchased the other day.
I return to the table with the wine and the glasses, pop the cork and pour us both a glass of high-brow bubble water.
I hug and kiss Esme like I had just returned from a long, solo expedition.
“Esme, my darling. I’d like to propose a toast. First to us. Hа здоровый!”
“Cheers!” Esme replies.
“Secondly to Red, Dean Vermiculari, the quarry guys, Polack the Cop, and all the others that makes our life weird around here.”
“Seconded”, Es echoes.
“Finally: to Houston, Texas. Our new home!” I finally add.
The next morning, Dean Vermiculari peers over the top of his pince-nez glasses. He’s not looking overly happy with me right now.
“Why is it, Doctor, that everyone that receives the job of corporate liaison ends up going with corporate?” he asks.
“Perhaps it’s just the exposure to another world that exists beyond academia.” I reply, truthfully.
“Doctor Rocknocker,” the Dean gravely states, “I am not at all happy about your decision. We had great hopes for you here and you were riding right up the tenure track. Another five years and it would have been assured.”
“Five years is a long time, Dean”, I state the obvious.
“Yes, indeed.” The Dean replies frostily. “However, you are young. Perhaps you need to get this private sector nonsense out of your system, then you can return to academia where you belong.”
“Perhaps, perhaps”, I reply.
“Please, do consider this option down the road. You and your antics will be missed here, by students and faculty alike.” He says.
“I will, Dean, I promise.” I reply “However, for now, it’s time for my boot heels to be wanderin’.”
“Doctor, I will miss your strange and unique way of looking at life. I reluctantly accept your resignation at the end of the current semester and wish you all the best in your newest endeavors. Please remember us when corporate support for academia is mentioned in your new company.” he says.
“I promise you, Dean, I will not forget what I’ve learned here and what you’ve taught. It’s the least I can do,” I reply. “I will never forget my roots.”
“All I can ask”, he concludes. He stands to shake my hand. We shake and my audience is over.
I resign from the quarry a week later. They haven’t found a new blaster but wish me well on my new journey. I tell them I’m here until the end of the semester, so I won’t leave them high and dry.
I tell Polack the Cop about all the goings-on.
“Who the hell can I roust for beer and cigars now?” He whines. “Let me know when you get to Texas if they need any cops. I wouldn’t mind trying’ that. Hell, maybe a Texas Ranger!”
“A Cheesehead Ranger…?” I assure him I will and pass a box of cigars to him as a parting gift. He gives me a mayoral-signed get-out-of-jail-free card.
“Now you can drive that old Harley just as crazy as you want.” He chuckles.
“Thanks, Polack.” I say, shaking his hand. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I sold my bike a week earlier.
Red was very chuffed with the news.
“Snagged me a big one this time!’ He laughed, over the phone.
There was enough paperwork, considerations and decisions to be made to last the remaining time Esme and I had in-state until our move. Already, a moving company had arrived, done inventory, and was preparing for our move to Houston.
Esme resigned her position and decided she wanted to take some time off. She wanted to be a housewife, a colleague, and not have to work for once at an outside job. My new position allowed for that in spades. Besides with her credentials, anytime when she wants to re-join the workforce, there are myriad opportunities in the Bayou City.
We made the choice of housing out west of town, in Katy, Texas. We could have chosen Sugarland, Addicks, Greenspoint, Greenway, or the Memorial area. However, these west Houston company properties were closest to the job and largest in square footage.
My students got wind of my resignation and relocation. They threw me an unexpected farewell party at the Gast Haus. It was nickel-beer night and since they were footing the bill, it all worked out just fine.
I would miss the old place. The camaraderie, the seasons, the university; hell my home these last many years. I’ve been on many, many expeditions, but I always returned home.
Now, home was moving and was awaiting our arrival.
Esme and I said our farewells to our families as well. We were the first through college, the first ones to travel international, the first Doctor in the family, and the first to leave the state.
That’s a lot of familial firsts.
I had to keep reminding everyone it wouldn’t be the last. Hell, we’re just moving to Texas, it’s not like we’re off to Greenland or Mongolia…
[Gasp]
We saddled up Es’s old Chevy Nova, took one last, lingering look in the rearview mirror, and said fare thee well to our previous lives.
“We’ll be back. Someday. I promise” I told the city of our youth and young married adulthood.
We decided to drive to Houston because we had the luxury of a bit of time. We needed the stretch to chew over some interpersonal and private things on the way to the next chapter in our lives. Besides, the weather was good, the roads ahead open and clear, and Texas had no ‘Open Container’ law, yet.
We pointed the old Nova south and hit the gas.
A week later, we’re wandering around our new house in Katy, Texas. Our belongings, scant though they may be, arrived the day after we did. Esme and I spent the next couple of day rearranging the house, buying necessary domestic bits and pieces, and getting to know our new neighborhood.
First thing, though, Esme wanted to replace the old Nova. I concurred, but insisted we keep it as a second car and went out to purchase our first new car as a couple.
I wanted a Land Rover. We ended up with a glossy black Toyota 4-Runner. Close enough.
I was scheduled to show up at my new job the next Monday.
I had my own parking spot, complete with “Reserved for Dr. Rock” painted on the bumper block. I was shown my new lab and was introduced to my seven laboratory assistants. I was shown the catalogs I could use to order what I needed and went over the requisition procedures.
I was trotted around to meet the company CEO, CFO, CIO, VPs and many, many more company executives and managers. I’ve met with presidents and heads of state, I was impressed but not overly. They seemed like a more or less nice bunch of chaps.
Almost exactly five weeks to the day from our arrival in Houston, I come home, yelling “Darling, I’m home!”
Esme comes to greet me with a rib-rearranging hug. She tells me to sit at the dinner table, where my long hard day at the office drink, cigar, ashtray, and lighter are already set.
“How was work, dear?” she asks, sitting down with her Perrier water.
“Oh, it’s going great. The knotheads let me have an open-ended budget until I get the labs sorted just the way I want it. These guys pay their bills on time and I have carte blanche at Wards Scientific, and other supply houses. My crew is great, no interpersonal crapola, and hard workers. I can smoke in my office and no one dares give me shit about my cigars. I’m getting to know the exploration department quite well. They’re really interested in our expeditions and are more interested in my opinions of their new exploration directives.”
Esme just smiles and sips her water.
“Odd”, I thought.
“That’s great, dear.” She says. “I am so glad to hear it.”
“Me too”, I say, “How are you holding up after all these weeks alone?”
“Oh, I’m getting used to it.” She smiles.
And smiles. Beatifically. Glowing.
“What?” I ask.
“Remember what we talked about in the car on the way down here?” She asks.
“We talked about a lot of things…” I say, suddenly my eyes grew very, very wide indeed.
“Yes. You’re going to be a father. I’m pregnant, Rock.” Esme smiles.
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The Killing House

There is a house near New Orleans, and before you make any jokes; no it isn't called the Rising Sun.
It does have a rather memorable reputation though, and a name that will probably make you think twice about visiting.
They call it the Killing House, and it only opens once a year on Halloween night.
The premise of the Killing House is simple, you go in and while spending the night any type of crime you commit is off the record, total anonymity ala The Purge.
As you might have guessed, this doesn't sit too well with the local authorities, so each year the proprietors have had to change location and keep it super secret.
Usually they do this by advertising on 4chan or other smaller forums in the darkweb, and then the rest is accomplished by word of mouth.
I'm not going to make it sound like what they are doing is ok by any means, but as it turns out; I had a reason to go this past October.
That reason was Rosemary Gilcrest.
About two weeks before the main event, I got on a Discord group that promoted the other local scare fairs, and met her in a NSFW chat.
Being down and out with my own wife, meeting a feisty no nonsense redhead half my age was quite the thrill.
After a few flirtatious encounters on the forum she popped the question about hooking up outside of cyberspace.
I told her I would love to, but figured given my age that she would probably consider me too old and worn out for her taste.
"The older the wine the sweeter the berry," she teased.
So I told her I was game, and we agreed that a secret rendezvous would be best.
"How about the Killing House?" she suggested.
If we had been in voicechat she probably would have heard me laugh out loud at the audacious idea.
"That place is uh... well it's got that name for a reason," I said.
Just last year the cops pulled three bodies from the basement. They were stripped of teeth, fingerprints and skin, so identification wasn't possible, and the rumors were there were at least five others found during the weeks to follow.
"That stuff is all just fake news! It's meant to be spooky to draw customers! I went last year and had the time of my life! They have an unlimited bar and grill, and the best spa this side of Houston!" she insisted.
I was hesitant of course. But I also didn't want to look like some kind of coward to her, so I gave in.
I know what you're probably thinking now, what a dumbass.
I was thinking the same thing as I drove to the spot where Rose said we would meet just off of 23 almost at Scarsdale.
The night air was calm near the water, and it felt like we were completely alone despite the city lights.
She had told me she would be wearing a green scarf for me to figure out who she was, but all i had needed to see was those sparkling green eyes.
She giggled and jumped at me as I walked over from my Jeep.
"I was beginning to think you had chickened out!" she told me as we had a quick make-out session.
"Mm, for you I couldn't say no. Are you sure we have to go to this stupid haunted attraction? I'm sure I can make you scream right here," I teased her.
"Naughty boy. Nope. You come to the house or you don't get the goods! That's the deal!" she told me with a laugh.
"Fine. So where to from here?" I asked.
"It should be here any minute now," she said excitedly.
I was about to ask her what she meant when I saw something moving upriver. It was an old style Mississippi steamboat, the kind that normally is only used for tours and the like on the main riverfront.
Now all of the rumors about the Killing House made sense. How they were able to remain under the radar and keep the law away.
It was dark in color, like a phantom ship in the night as it approached our parking spot and then I heard the sound of a foghorn as one of the attendants tossed the ladder over the side of the ship.
Rose took my hand and encouraged me to set sail, and for almost half a second I thought about turning around and going home.
Still, her kiss lingered on my lips and a man has needs so like a dumbfounded puppy dog I followed onboard.
All of the attendants wore the same skin tight mesh that prevented me from seeing their faces, another step in their scheme to obscure who these wackos were.
"Welcome to your death. I'll be your server tonight," one said as we entered the main foyer.
The steamboat seemed larger on the inside than I expected, almost like a palace. I wagered from the elaborate architecture and room design it was once used as a casino of some sort.
Soft repetitive music played as Rose led me down the stairs to where at least thirty other individuals were eating and chatting like this was an everyday event.
"What can I get you to drink?" the masked bartender asked us.
The ambience and general cheer in the air threw me for a loop as Rose ordered us two Bloody Mary tonics.
Everyone looked like they were having a good time, dancing and carrying on about their plans for the night.
A lot of it sounded like weird BDSM stuff, and other parts were a tad on the torture porn level. It made me squeamish to imagine they were just chitchatting about this as though they did it all the time.
But all in all I was beginning to get the idea that the rumors of actual murder might have been just for publicity like Rose had said.
I was just feeling like getting up for a dance when a newcomer entered the fray and rushed toward us.
"Eve? Is that you?" a man said walking up half drunk from the grill to my date.
Rose looked down at her drink trying to ignore him as he said, "It's me Sam! From the convention in San Antonio!"
"I think you have me mistaken for someone else," she began but he wasn't hearing it.
"Nah... you're Eve all right. Let me guess this is your latest catch?" he said as he looked me up and down like I was some kind of trophy.
"Not bad at all. I bet he'll last. Hey buddy did you bring any kind of lube... you're gonna need it!" He laughed.
I saw Rose look more and more uncomfortable with each passing moment, and I pushed the guy away muttering, "Listen buddy, we're just trying to have a good time. The lady said she doesn't know you, so why don't you scram?"
Sam raised his hands defensively as he backed away and winked at my date.
"Definitely a keeper you got here. Well, best of luck to you two. You're gonna need it!" Sam laughed as he walked out of the dining room.
Rose continued to stir her drink as I gave her an odd look, waiting for her explain what just happened.
Finally I sighed and said, "That was uh... interesting."
"Can we just drop it?" she muttered.
"Oh sure, sure," I said as I looked up toward the television.
Most of the monitors seemed to show the same program, an old horror movie from the 70s about a prison; I forget the name. Then it suddenly changed to a black screen with numbers counting down.
A few in the room started cheering excitedly and Rose grabbed my arm.
"We should get to our room," she said.
"Hold on a second. What's going on?" I asked as I looked around. Most of the people were getting ready to leave as well as the clock started ticking down.
"It's almost time. Not a good idea to be here when it gets started. Too open," Rose told me.
She began to tug on my jacket again, but I guess my brain finally kicked into gear and I wanted a few answers from her.
"I'm not going anywhere until you tell me at least who that guy was, how he knew you and why the hell you really brought me here," I told her.
She looked down at the floor trying not to tremble. I realized she was genuinely upset about something and she mumbled. "Please.. just get to the room. I'll explain everything there."
For some reason I fell for that routine.
I followed her out of the dining hall and into the hallways.
The corridors seemed constricted and out right claustrophobic as people packed in to get to their rooms.
Finally we arrived at our suite and Rose closed the door and I stood there waiting for an explanation.
"I wanted to tell you everything at first. But I was scared you would say no," she mumbled.
"Tell me now and then I can decide if I want to jump ship," I said crossing my arms angrily.
"Sam and I dated about three years ago. It wasn't a great run, but sure we had a few laughs. Until... until he got really shitfaced drunk one night and... and..." she began.
Then she started sobbing and fell into my arms.
I immediately realized what had happened. That pervert had raped her.
I sat her down on the bed and ran my fingers through her hair.
"I'm sorry... I'm so sorry Rose..." I told her.
"I'm... not finished... it was more than just what he did to my virginity... he..." she looked down at her trembling hands.
"He got me pregnant," she explained in a voice that was almost a whisper.
I clenched my fists and stood up staring at the wall.
I couldn't help but to punch a hole in the siding, realizing there was another aspect of the story that was unsaid but all too clear.
"You lost the child didn't you?" I asked.
"Sam was older than me... he panicked and forced me to get an abortion... threatened he would kill me if I didn't..." Rose sobbed.
All the pieces were falling into place. "So... you've been coming to the Killing House every year to find him. Is that it?" I asked.
She only nodded meekly.
"He's been... taunting me ever since. Holding it over my head. That he got away with it... and... and..." she paused and just broke down entirely.
"Is that how you got your scars? You tried to take him down alone?" I asked in shock.
"What choice did I have?! No one else was going to do it!" Rose snapped back.
I could see the rage in her eyes. I understood it more than I could even express.
"That's why you brought me here... isn't it?" I asked.
She reached into her bag and pulled out a gun.
"It isn't registered. And I made sure the bullets would be untraceable. I've tried so hard to move on past this. But Sam... he's a monster. If anyone deserves to become another body for this house, it's him," she told me as she laid it on the bed.
I stared at it for a long time before I heard a loudspeaker go off elsewhere on the boat.
"ladies and gentle beasts. It's that time for our main event! The Killing House is in international waters and that means the sky is the limit! We'll be back in dock by six in the morning so please keep in mind to clean up after yourself before then!"
Then a horn went off and the music stopped.
It was time for the hunt. I know that I said that the Killing House doesn't really have any rules, and for the most part that's true. You can literally do whatever you want while you're there.
But there are a few unspoken principles that seem to guide how things work during the main event.
I found out about all of them the hard way the night that Rose gave me an unregistered gun.
I must have stared at it for ages, trying to figure out just what to make of the story she had spun.
For all I knew it could be one big lie. I didn't really know her at all, and had no reason to believe any of this.
But the conviction and hatred she had for her ex seemed real enough, and I know a thing or two about being abused.
"Stay in here," I told her as I moved toward the door.
She didn't object as I stepped out into the cramped corridor, and I heard a few random slurs tossed out from across the hall.
The queer fetishes these people seemed to revel in was on full display in the next room, a man and woman wearing bondage items and pleasuring each other with them while a crowd watched.
It made me feel sick to stay there any longer.
I needed to find Sam, figure out what was really going on here and then get out.
I moved down the hallway back to the main dining room, only to find that the previously crowded area was now pitch black and empty.
One of the employees was sweeping up beer bottles and looked at me as I moved closer. He immediately noticed my gun.
"This area is off limits during the event sir. You'll need to return to the play floor for use of weapons," he said, his voice muffled from the ski mask.
"Who is in charge around here? I need to see security tapes of the evening."
"Sir I'm afraid that isn't possible," he began but I made a warning shot up in the air and he jumped in surprise.
"R-r-right this way," the employee said taking me behind the bar.
There was a door marked employees only and he used his key to get us inside and then move down a wider passage where several of the attendants were sitting back and drinking a few rounds themselves.
None of them were wearing masks anymore and as the younger attendant brought me in with my weapon to the back of his neck I saw surprise and confusion on their faces.
"Bloody hell, what's going on here?" One older man asked gruffly.
"He wants to see the Captain," my captive answered nervously.
"You're barking up the wrong tree here Mister. Now put that weapon down and we can talk," another said.
"You must be joking. You're going to show me where the Captain is at so I can review some security footage. Simple as that," I told them.
They looked at each in amusement and then laughed which only made me more frustrated.
"Something funny? Do I need to show you how serious I am?" I said shoving their friend to a wall.
"Easy there tiger. It's just a dumb request. This must be your first time here. We don't keep surveillance of the event, or otherwise the cops would find it leaked online. Same thing for mobile devices and other electronics. Not allowed aboard," the older man explained.
I frowned in disappointment my original plan going to pieces rather quickly.
"Do you have a manifest? So you know who is supposed to be aboard?" I asked.
The men seemed hesitant to answer and I smiled as I realized I was on to something now.
"Of course you do, how else would you make certain no uninvited guests hopped aboard? Where is it?" I asked.
They didn't respond so I kicked at their coworkers ankles to force him to the floor.
"Tell me where," I growled.
"Fine. The boss can handle you," one guard said in frustration.
He stormed out of the room as though encouraging me to follow and I picked the young employee up by his shirt collar and shoved him down the passage.
"Lead the way."
We walked down a flight of stairs into what looked like a boiler room of some sort.
Given that the idea was that this was meant to be an abandoned steamboat it surprised me to find that most of the equipment was in good working order.
Something told me that this place was used on a regular basis for another purpose I thought as the guard led me toward another room that was more finely decorated.
There was a big fat man sitting on a plush red pillow in the middle of the next room as the guard opened the door. Five scantily clad women were around him acting like he was some kind of idol but when they saw my gun they all scattered like the roaches they were.
"Damien this better be good. Who the hell is this?" the fat man asked his guard.
"One of our guests. He wants a look at the manifest."
"You're out of luck stranger. That's for our administrative staff only," the fat man laughed.
"I need to find someone, see if he's aboard," I explained.
"And you thought coming in here guns a blazing would get you what you wanted?" The fat man asked.
I was about to answer when I felt a blunt instrument hit the back of my head. Everything went black instantly.
I woke up later strapped and naked to a table. The fat man was standing nearby smoking a cigar. We were back in the boiler room.
Several of the guards were gearing up the machinery as they finished tightening my bonds.
"So we did a little digging and it looks like the one name that isn't on the manifest is yours Stranger. How exactly did you get aboard?" the fat man asked.
"What are you going to do if I don't talk?" I teased.
But I don't know why I was being so smart in the first place.
One of the guards brought over what looked like a branding iron. It had strange markings on it like the kind you have for slaughterhouses on cattle.
Before I could even scream in defense they placed it against the side of my ribs, piercing flashing pain scorching my body.
"WHAT THE HELL!!!"
"It doesn't really matter who you are, to be honest. You're just what we need to spice things up," another man said.
I was trying my hardest not to whimper as I felt the pain make my side go numb.
"Now you're marked. Guess you’ll get that death wish to come true huh?" The guard said as he put the branding iron down.
"Marked for what?"
"We're getting to that. You still haven't answered our questions. Are you going to tell us how you came here?" the fat man asked.
I decide playtime with this lot was over. I spilled and told them about Rosemary and Sam.
The group looked at each other as though this news sounded familiar and then left the room to consult privately.
I struggled for a second to free myself of the bonds but it was pointless. They were back before I was half way there.
"It's your lucky day partner. Your buddy Sam turns out to be a participant too, so you're going to get to meet him," the fat man laughed.
"Take him to the arena," another guard ordered.
"Wait... what? What the hell?" I asked as they dragged me up.
I felt like I was being treated like an animal, naked and afraid.
A few moments later they shoved me into what looked like a freight elevator and it started to move up.
I pushed my weary body up and watched as the transport shook and shimmied trying to figure out what was going on.
The door opened to a wide open gala room which looked like it had once been used for some type of live theater.
Sam was there on the other side of the room, also naked and marked on his side.
XIX his marking said. Mine was XIII. What was going on? A blare-horn sounded again.
I knew this would be a fight only one of us would walk away from.
I won’t sugar coat what happened next. I fought for my life.
Sam rushed toward me, fear and anxiety covering his face. He pushed me down into the dirt and started hitting scratching and kicking me in every part of my side. There wasn’t a chance to talk it over.
I pushed him back, kicking him away and rolling near the edge of the ring. One of the men pushed me back toward the center, all of them chanting for the bloody battle to continue.
From somewhere up above, one of the proprietors dropped a knife into the sand and dirt. Both of us paused for a moment and then dropped into a charge position to make for the weapon.
Sam made it there first, and I toppled over him and kicked at his back to push him down. The knife slid. The whole boat seemed to sway. I scrambled to grab it and sliced it against Sam’s thigh. He screamed out and the crowd went wild.
But I wasn’t about to let this madness continue for their enjoyment.
I scanned the exterior of the ring, looking at the chains that linked toward some of the pipes above and ran toward them without question. Sam was struggling to stand up and ignore the injury as I began to climb.
I kicked him away, pushing my foot into his mouth and pulling harder and harder to get up. I was halfway up the chains when someone shouted to the owners of my attempted escape. If I didn’t get out soon I knew there wasn’t going to be a second chance. I saw an air vent. I kept the knife in my mouth and started to swing on the chain.
I grabbed ahold of the vent as I heard an alarm blare and several armed men come into the arena below. One of them used the blunt end of their gun to knock Sam down. The others aimed their rifles at me. I hastily grabbed the knife from my mouth and slammed it against the rusty hinges on the vent.
A bullet grazed my back. It took everything in my power to ignore the pain and keep working at the vent. Finally, the bottom half of the hinges fake lose. Then another round of bullets hit my arm and I dropped the knife.
I started swinging again. I kicked at the vent as they kept trying to shoot me down. Then the vent fell down and I pushed my body into the vent as yet another shot grazed my foot. I was crawling in my own blood. My body bruised and swollen.
I found another vent and started working to escape into the winding maze of the belly of the boat. I still needed to find that manifest.
Maybe I wouldn’t be able to help Rose but if I could get that list and then turn it over to the authorities.
My bare feet hit the cold floor and I looked about where I had come out at. It was some type of locker room. I found one of them that was open and grabbed a dirty towel to press against my open wound.
I stood there naked, confused tired and trying to think of where to go next. I wouldn’t be able to get far like this. I looked around and found a uniform for one of the workers on the steamboat. This was the key to getting back upstairs unseen.
It was a little tight and worn. But I figured that the employees around here likely came and went faster than the management could keep track of. A second later, a woman stepped into the room and paused to stare at me. “New?” she asked. “Yeah… sorry. This all got to be a bit much so I went to get some air,” I said. It was a good enough lie that she didn’t bat an eye. She guided me upstairs into what appeared to be a ballroom.
Dozens of people were waiting again, chatting and enjoying the festivities of the night. I was doing my best to keep my head down when I heard that same fat man make an announcement.
“Ladies and gents! We’ve had quite a few casualties on the ship tonight and the festivities are rounding up to a big finale. So to get things started for our final venue, we are asking all of you to a dinner,” he said.
Several workers were moving long gurneys into the back of the room. The lady I was working alongside pulled me into the kitchen to do the same.
I knew immediately what was under the white sheets. Bodies. And the smell of burnt skin covered the room. It made me want to vomit. I suddenly understood how the Killing House was able to hide all the carnage that happened aboard. They either burnt or devoured the dead. I covered my nose and pushed the gurney into the buffet room. People were lining up to grab a meal. They were eagerly anticipating the chance to become cannibals.
I pulled back the sheet that I was pushing and did a double take. It was Sam. I had seen him only twenty minutes ago and now he was dead. I hardly knew the man but still this cut me to the core. He had died because he came here searching for Rose. What would have happened to me if I had followed through with her request? Would this cult like fervor surrounded me and made me feel like a hero? I couldn’t do it anymore. I didn’t care about the manifest or even the truth about Rose.
A sudden rage filled my body and I pushed the gurney over before anyone could defile this man’s body.
The crowd gasped in surprise and a few guards raised their weapons. Before they could fire a shot I pushed over a candle and fire spread across Sam’s skin. I grabbed another and tossed it straight into a guard’s face. Screams filled the air. I dropped down and began to crawl as the fire spread faster. Sprinklers activated a second later. Then I pushed another table over and rushed toward the fat man. I was on top of him before anyone could stop me. My hands around his neck. The guards pointed toward guns straight at my head but the fat man motioned for them to stop. “You… you were in the… arena,” he said with realization. I choked hard as I could but he motioned for me to stop. “I can give you whatever you want…” he insisted.
I calmed down for a moment and let him go. “You are quite a feisty one aren’t you?” he said with a laugh.
“I told you that he would be a good one Johnny,” a new voice said across the room. It was Rose. I stared at her, not too stunned to find that Sam had been right. “Ah. My daughter. This is the one that you said we could make part of the team?” the fat man asked. “Daughter?” I repeated in shock as the guards lowered their weapons and the crowd dispursed.
She only smiled sweetly. Like this was all a big game and they had won. “He did fabulous. Killed two guards and then made this whole deck a fucking fire hazard. He will be a great addition to next year's main event,” Rose said. “What? Are you insane? I’m getting the fuck out of here!!” I shouted angrily.
The fat man laughed. “And go back to your wife? You are so so simple,” he said. I felt my heart drop. they had gotten to her? “While you were busy just trying to get in my daughter’s pants, we sent out men to take care of that problem. View her as leverage,” the fat man said.
“Why..” I said desperately feeling my head spin. “Because the Killing House needs more attractions. And you have the fire to really make this place go to the next level,” Rose explained. That was why they brought me. To blackmail me. They showed me videos they were eager to spread to the police. Carefully edited to make me appear like a lone wolf killer.
So I caved. I chose to work for this mad house. I know it isn’t the best choice but I haven’t exactly made many good choices lately. I lost everything, I really did even lose my life here at the Killing House.
I don’t know if any of you will ever get an invite to come here. But take it from someone who has lived through it:
the Killing House will be the death of you.
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submitted by Colourblindness to nosleep [link] [comments]

Logan and the Antarctic - Chapter One.

Logan age 26
Struggling musician, lives in Vegas. Takes odd jobs like magician's assistant and Ubering people around.
Cooks top ramen with a sprinkle of cheese and an egg because it makes him feel fancy.
Owns a YouTube channel although not a successful one. He's talented he just doesn't have the marketing savvy.
Into conspiracy theory videos. Stays up late sometimes watching 10-15 videos in a row going from simple UFO / Bob Lazar stuff, to debating whether the earth is flat using 6th grade Trigonometry. He knows it's not flat, but sometimes he looks up and can't help but wonder.

He's that shady guy at coffee houses. Wears a scarf to places that you don't expect people to wear scarfs. Always has stubble but never a full beard. Which is odd because you rarely see him shaving, you'd think his stubble was permanently tattooed on his face.

Hosts various open mic nights around the city every other week.
People mistake him for Russell Brand until they hear him speak.

"Russell! Russell!" you'd hear them running up on the strip trying to take a selfie, sometimes he just goes with it.

One night our would-be British celebrity picks up a couple in his Uber. They're young in their mid 20s.

The woman has wavy brown hair, in a navy blue mini skirt with dark red heels and a white blouse. As soon as they get in the car she starts crying begging the man who appears to be her husband to stay.

She appears to be a little tipsy and has a pizza stain on her right shoulder. Logan can see from the mirror, aside from being a messy eater, she's also very worried for her husband's well being.

"Honey I can't let you go all that way alone. Don't they have housing for spouses on the base?" She begs.

"No.. normally yes but... Baby we can talk about this when we get home. Please.." The man looks as though he fears she might say something that might get them both killed.

"How dare you leave me all alone while you go to fucking ANTARCTICA!!!! What the fuck is so great about Antarctica anyway? Do they have hot Antarctican strippers on the base? I bet that's what it is. You're cheating on me with a whale!!!!!"

She laughs with tears in her eyes.

"Baby I told you.. \Looking at Logan glaring at him in the rear-view\** It's.... it's classified".

"CLASSIFIED CLASSIFIED THAT'S ALL YOU EVER SAY! I'M YOUR WIFE!!!!!!! YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO TELL ME THINGS ANYWAY!!!
Like that time you told me about the space craft they found in New Mexico. And the portal in Africa. And the pasta colander Gina found in Switzerland"- hiccuuppp

"....The particle collider in Geneva, Switzerland*... Dear you're so drunk... Please.."

"YEAH THAT THING!!!! IF YOU TOLD ME ABOUT THAT WHY CAN'T YOU TELL ME WHAT'S GOING ON IN ANTARCTICA!?"

".... I'm so sorry sir she had a little too much to drink tonight. You can just let us out over here. Thank you. Here's a tip. For the disturbance."

He hands Logan $100 bill. As if to keep quiet about what he had just heard.

"Hey" said Logan to the man who had just handed him a crisp hundo.

Being a conspiracy nut himself and having done tons of research on Antarctica, Logan needed to know more but he couldn't let on that he wanted to know more.

"Are you guys hiring? For... for that trip I mean... Uber... doesn't pay very well at all. And well... I could reaaally get out of this damned heat, a change of pace in Antarctica sounds exciting."

Faking desperation, thinking it would help his case. People sometimes take pity on you if you plead nicely, Logan has learned.

"I'm not supposed to say... and normally I wouldn't. But.. you've got that same look in your eye that I once had. So... I definitely did not tell you that we're leaving from Los Angeles in 2 days. And if you were somehow to show up at this address with a suitcase and a sad story, you might get hired as a cook on board our ship. The captain has a soft spot for sad stories. But I didn't say that. Have a good night."

Logan thought for a minute.

"A cook... hmm... I don't know how to cook...But I gotta get on that boat somehow...
I don't have a lot of money either.. Ahhhh who am I kidding. Me? Antarctica? Pshhhhhhh"

With a swipe of his finger on his smart phone that fit snug into the cup holder of his silver and black SUV, he logged off the UBER app and headed to the Circus Circus with a crisp hundred dollar bill.

He hands his keys to the parking attendant who gives him a claim ticket.

"You can come to me later for free parking validation sir!!"

"Thanks......Hmm.. I like what they did with the remodel" Logan says under his breath as he passes a gaudy slot machine decorated with polar bears, ice bergs and a huge fan set up to blow cold air on your face every time you pull the lever.

"Worth it just to get out of the heat, I'd say.."
Something pulled him towards that specific slot machine. Maybe it was the remnant of a frantic woman drunkenly babbling on about government conspiracies or maybe it was... fate.

With a fold, a tug and a whirling grinding of the tiny conveyor belt, Logan had a feeling he would never see that hundred dollar bill again.

Part of a 50s doo-wap song begins to play on the machine before a loud obnoxious voice takes over.

"ARE YOU READY TO PLAY BYEEEEEEE POLARRRRRR!!!!!! LETS GET READY TO CRUMBLLLLLLLEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!.... THESE ICE BERGS!!!!!!! Choose your bet and pull the lever! Try max bet for a chance to win 20 free spins and an entry into our million dollar jackpot at the end of the night!!!!!"

"Yeah right... I just want the free buffet. It's reasonable? Come on. Give me a buffet"
As Logan presses max bet, pulls the lever and the warm musty air blows on his face from the fan that obviously needs a can of freon, Logan can't help but wonder if he should have just got a buffet with the hundred dollar bill.

"Well too late now"

The machine starts whirling and spinning, a video of a big ice wall pops up as a bunch of birds in military uniforms attempt to jump over it as each number counts down.

Sorry you lose. Admiral Bird is sad. Try again?

Logan goes to spin again but it won't budge. He glances over at the sign that reads "Max Bet $100"

"Wow I spent $100 on one spin???? Are you serious??? What a rip off..."

As Logan stands up from the chair that looked more like a throne and had 10 ice swords sticking out of it with a vortex in the middle, he hears another whirling printing noise coming from the machine.

"Keep this ticket for the million dollar drawing at the end of the night! Your number is 74819!! If 74819 gets called, show this ticket to the concierge to collect your prize. Not valid if you leave the casino before the drawing. Not valid if you go to the bathroom before the drawing. Not valid if folded. Not valid if you validate your parking. Void where prohibited"

"Geeez what a load of crap.. Not valid not valid, you'd think they would just print "GFYS" and be done with it".

$100 was all Logan was willing to spend at the casino. He knows the slots are rigged, but he also knows they're on a certain percentage payout, meaning if enough money goes in, some money has to come out. $100 is his limit. It's a rule. With a rule like that you'd think he knows what he's doing, except the most he's ever won was $900 on a malfunctioning roulette machine in Atlantic City.

Logan heads for the door to go validate his parking when he hears on the loud speaker:

"Greeeeetings Circus Circus fam!!! We're about to announce the winner of our million dollar jackpot drawing. BEtter not VaLidAte your parking just yet!! We'll be calling out one number every 5 minutes until the final number is drawn!!!!"

Logan looks at the parking attendant and snatches his ticket back before he had a chance to stamp it.

"Awe mannnnn they pay me for every stamp" The attendant with red hair and braces cried.

"Shut up kid, I'm trying to hear this"

"ANd nOw the MOMENT YOU'VE ALL been waiting for.... the million dollar drawing!! FIRST NUMBER IN 30 SECONDS!!!!!"

The parking attendant tries to stamp Logan's ticket without him noticing. Logan stares at him with a Bruce Lee stare that said "I'll kill you with subtitles".

"If your number has a 3 in itttttttttt!!!!!!!!" - Logan exhales and reaches to give the parking attendant the ticket he's been drooling over like Gollum at a wedding rehearsal.

"Then you're out of luck because the first number is 7!!!!!!!!"

"NOT TODAY GOLLUM!!!!!!!" - Logan snatches the ticket back and starts to run as the attendant hisses.

The attendant chases Logan around the casino with his freshly inked stamp while each number brings him closer to the prize. Logan careful not to fold it or enter any bathrooms before the final number gets called.

Finally Logan seemed to lose the red haired parking attendant and found refuge sitting near an old lady in fishnet stockings playing a fortune teller slot.

Trying to keep his cool knowing he's only 1 number away from a million dollar jackpot (minus taxes of course), he tries to make small talk with the aunt-like fishnet wearer.

"So.. do you have one of those tickets too?"

A little giggle comes out as the woman pulls the lever to the slot in front of her.

"No..... I don't. But I do have.... a PARKING VALIDATION STAMP!!!!!!!"

What Logan thought to be a nice old woman woman turns her head to reveal a toothy grin from the red haired parking attendant.

"Holy shit what are they paying you guys???? I'm not even mad.. That's impressive.. No really, like how you did your eye shadow? It's a lovely color on you. It looks like Egyptian markings!"

The parking attendant blushes.
"Oh you really think -"

*AND NOW THE FINAL NUMBER!!!! 9!!!!!! If your ticket says 74819 then head to the cashier right away to collect your prize!!!!!"

Logan takes off running towards the cashier. The attendant doesn't chase after him, instead just sits there feeling sad because he actually thought Logan was complimenting his eye shadow.

"I would have let him off the hook ya know. I've validated parking for so long, no one ever... validated my markings....."

Some time later, Logan sitting in the back room of the Circus Circus cashier cage with a team of people making sure that he didn't get his parking validated or took a bathroom break, trying to find any loop hole to deny him a payout.

A short chubby bald man holding a cigar, dressed in a short black suit snarled at Logan while a team of data scientists prepare Matplotlib graphs from camera footage in Jupyter Notebooks on a server a few feet away. The short man looked like Dr Eggman played by Danny Devito joining the Men in Black.

"Okay Fine you got us, kid. Here take your damned cash. You earned it fair and square."

Leading Logan into the "back-back" room filled with the sound of cash rolling through the electrical money counters and yellow paper bands with a tiny bit of glue being wrapped around and tightened against stacks of green currency with old men's pictures printed in the center to denote dollar amount.

"1 million dollars. Minus taxes and parking attendant therapy fee that's 6 hundred thousand, 3 hundred and 68 dollars annnnd 46 cents." The short balding Eggman said.

"Parking attendant therapy fee? Seriously?"

"Look kid, we can give you 6 hundred grand and change or free parking validation. Which will it be???"

Sensing that this isn't your average casino, and that this isn't an average situation, realizing the reality that he was just hours ago driving for $10 dollars a ride, now having over half a million after tax dollars in his face, he said what any human in his position would say.

"I'll take the cash...."

2 days, 40 grand and 5 high class call girls later..

Logan arrives to the address scribbled on the back of an Ale house business card. Turns out it was an abandoned building. The guy was just messing with him.

"I drove 4 hours for nothing.. Maybe she was just wasted. Antarctica sounded so cool though. The mystery. I need to know what they're hiding... Man how am I gonna get to Antarctica?"

Driving down the industrial complex, Logan spots a travel agency. "Maybe they have a cruise?"

The door opens with a BEEEEEEP and a jingle of door chimes with the atmosphere of a knock off 7/11 on a back alley road. It even had those little red and green door beads that lead to the back room where you just know there's a round table and an elderly group of ethnic gentlemen in tank tops smoking cigarettes and complaining about the "races".

"Can I help you?" A tall dark gentleman in a red and yellow Hawaiian shirt with curly black hair said in a rough southern British accent. Which was weird because he seemed.. not British.

"Uh...... yes do you guys have anything for Antarctica?"

"Ohhh quite booked up eeem'afraid. Yup till September."

"Well that's only next week..."

"Of 2022 eem'afrraiid, yup it's quite a while yup."

"Why... are you talking like that?"

"Look we're booked up bruv. If you wanna have a go at one of our Hawaiian cruises I can put you on the next boat to Waikiki which leaves in an hour."

"Dude come on, how can I get to Antarctica? I got money..."

"How much money?"

"I'll spend 100k on it if I have to. I want to go to Antarctica."

"Hmmmmmmmmm wellll woi didn'tcha say so govna, come on back let's have a look at our private charters why don't we".

The clearly not British man in the tacky Hawaiian shirt led Logan down past the rasta beads to the back room which.. looked exactly as Logan presumed


"Ayeeeeeee Earl man wants to go to Antarctica. Got 100k"

"100k? To go to Antarctica? Why? Can't he wait til 2022 it's only 4k. What's the rush?"

Both the tall dark gentleman stare confused at Logan. Logan himself looks a bit bewildered.

When he really thought about it, he hadn't even made a plan. "Just get to Antarctica" was the plan. But as to what was next once he got there he hadn't given really much thought.

"To be honest I have no clue myself, I just... wanna go. See the sights.."
Logan said not wanting to raise any red flags.

"THATS E SPEEEREEEET" the clearly not British man shouted, as both Logan and his counter-part looked frightened.

"Sorry... I mean... yeah man that's the spirit!"

Earl peered down at Logan through his black rimmed prescription glasses in confusion and doubt, wondering if he's actually got the 100k to spend.

"For 100k I'll take ye there and back. But how'loi know you got the monay" said Earl who didn't before but now has a very thick Scottish accent.

"Well I just won a jackpot from the Circus Circus in Vegas. See here's a bag full of money. They even zip locked stacks for me at a nominal fee."

"Circus Circus eh? A wise guy eh? Oi want payment up front and en cash. And ye gotta sign a waver, if'n ye die in and or around the boat during any time from here to Antarctica and back, you hold SaberTooth Charter LLC indemifiable for all liability and such."

The other clearly not British man chimed in "Yeah indemnifiable!"

".......I'm gonna have to think about it...." Logan said, backing away slowly, clearly uncomfortable, trying to peacefully exit the building.

"Okay fine fine... I'll drop the accent and you can pay half now, half when we get there. 3 meals a day, whole crew ready to do your bidding. It'll take 4 weeks. We'll stop in Guadalajara, El Salvador, Ecuador, Peru, Chile straight to Antarctica. If you've got any specific spots you'd like to check out along the way, we'll try to accommodate you. Fair enough?"

"Deal." said Logan.

(Chapter Two)
submitted by thabat to HFY [link] [comments]

List of mystery box items 737 I think .., no golden goose realty

Link https://tstoaddicts.com/2019/03/13/in-game-update-classless-reunion-mini-event-is-live/
Acid Pools Acorn Kirk Adil Hoxha African Tree Resort Air Fortress Ajax Steel Mill and Roscoe Akiro and The Happy Sumo Alcatraaaz and Mansion Alison Taylor and Taylor House All American Apu All Seeing Eye Alley McBalls Ambulance Ancient Burial Ground Ancient Ruins Animatronic Bears Annual Gift Man Apus Apocalypse Jeep Aqua World Arc De Triomphe Ark of the Stonecovenant Arnie Pye Asia DeCuba Atlantis Atombic Bomb Attack Helicopter Auxillary Agency HQ Aztec Theatre Baby Gerald Bad Dream House and the Raven Bagpipe Bus Balance Beam and Gymnastics Lisa Banana Dictatorship Bandit Fort Bare Chested Willie Barney and Bowlarama Barracks Bart Balloon Bartman Cave Bartman Cave Basketball Game Battle Dome Battling Seizure Robot BBQ Pig Beach Hideaway Beach House Bear Cave Beer N Brawl and Lurleen Beersein Wiggum Belle and Maison Derriere Best Snowman Ever BGM and the Jazz Hole Big Bug House Big Butt Skinner Balloon Big Claw Big Digi Ben Black Leather Plane Blackbeard Blackbeard and Ghost Pirate Airship Blarney Castle Blasting Bass Blocko Store Blue Haired Lawyer Blue Nerd Blue Nerd Knight Blue Nerd Rogue Boardwalk Fountain Bob Clones Bob’s Victorian House Bonestorm Santa Bookaccinos Boxing Ring Brandine Brother Faith Van Brutus Bandit Buckingham Palace Buckingham Pay Less Motel Bumblebee Mand Burns Basketball Stadium Burns Coffin Burns Limo Caesars Pow Wow Casino and Chief Café Kafka Caged Tom Turkey Camera Hat Homer Camping Tent Candy Apple Island Candy Kevin Captain Bob Carnival Float Cartoon Motel Cartoon Set Cat Bus Catapult Cavewoman Booberella Cayman Island Banker Cemetery Plot Cesears Pow Wow Sign Chateau Maison Cheddarbarrel Combine Chest of Sacred Artifacts Chester and Unfinished Shed Chez Guevara Chimp Refuge Chinese Acrobatic Theatre Chinese Junk Chinese Restaurant Chinese Takeout Box Chippy Chocolate Chapel Chopper Ride Chripy Boy and Bart Jr Christmas Tree Ralph Circle of Death Classified Records Claus Co Clobber Girl Coat of Foxes Krusty Colosseum Column Mansion CONRAD Cool Brown House and Cool Homer Costingtons and Mr. Costington Cozy Hammock Crap Silo Crate of Fireworks Crazy Cat Lady and House Crazy Plane Cremo Bot Cristo of Springfield Crouching Panda Hidden Eggroll Curvaceous Cave and Cavewoman Booberella Cybord Snake Cypress Creek Elementary Cypress Creek Home Cypress Creek Sign Dancing Reindeer Dead Lobster Death Mountain and Dr Colossus Death to Homer Missile Department of Magical Vehicles Der Krazy Kraut and Becky Deuces Caboose Chili Dogs Devil Flanders Devil Float Dia-Betty and Motherloving Sugar Go Disco Stu and Disco DMV Limo Dodgeball Court Donut Boat Donut Store Donut Torture Device Donut Truck Doorbell Fiesta Van Dr Lenny’s Lab Dr. Nick Dragon Bundle Drive In Theater Drone Duff Barney Blimp Duff Beer Car Duff Blimp Duff Center Arena Duff Gardens Duff McShark Tank Duff Party Bus Duff Party Liner Duff Stadium Duff Statue of Liberty Duffman and Duff Brewery Dunking Device Easter Island God Ebenezer Burns Efcot Center Egg Nog Bar Egyptian Playground Eisenhower 4×4 and Ike Elder Blimp Electric Car Bundle Elf Home Elf Hotel Elf Toy Workshop Bell Elixir Mixer Elysium Project Enriched Learning Center EPA Hoverjet ESBN Sports Desk Eski Moes Evil Shop Keeper Bundle Exotic Petting Zoo Eyeballs of Death Eygyptian Tent Fairy Kodos Fake Toll Booth Fancy Farms Fantastical Beastarium Father Sean Fatov Femme Fatale Ferris Wheel Festive Light Plunger Fever Cabin Fiddler Filthy Angles Orphanage Fire Eater Fireman Apu Fireman Homer Fireworks Barge Fireworks Candy and Puppy Dogs First Bank of Springfield First Church of Lard Lad First Class Lounge Five Alarm Chili Stand Five Corners Flag Bundle Flanders Frozen Car Football Nelson Football Target Football Uprights Forgotten Grave Formless Terror Fort Sensible Fortress of Lonelitude Fortune Megastore and Arthur Francesca and Italian Villa Freakmobile Freedom French Waiter Frink and his Lab Frinkosonic MHV Frink’s Mechano Spider Frink’s Robot Dog Frinkthetic Egg Generator Mk1 Frinkthetic Egg Generator MkII Frosty the Hitman Fruit Bat Man Funzo Bundle Future Monument Future Proofed Home Futuristic Jet Gabbo and Arthur Garbage Truck Ghost Zapper Giant Burning Goat Giant Ferris Wheel Giant Grasshopper Giant Lobster Scorpion Giant Outdoor Fireplace Giant Robot Giant Screamapillar Giant Snow Globe Gingerbread House Gingerbread Mansion Gino and It’s A Wonderful Knife Giuseppe and his Workshop Globex Compound Gold Records on Walls Studio Golden Calf Idol Golf Course Gone Fission Gorgeous Grampa Gorgeous Grampa Bundle Great Wall Tower Greta and Springfield Prep Grub Shack Guitar Central Gypsy Fortune Teller Shop and Maude Half Pipe Hammock District Handsome Pete Hanger 18 Hangman Cage Hank and Volcano Lair Hans Moleman Havana Private Home Health Spa Heimlich Machine Hellementary School Helter Shelter Herb Powell and Powell Motors Hi Glow Waste Barrels Himeji Castle Holiday Tree Holis and Springfield Historical Society Home of Tomorrow Homer Dog Homerclese Statue Homer’s Ballet Hooch City Hootenanny Barn Hot Air Balloon Hot Springs Hot Squishee Station Hot Tub House on Scary Hill Hover Copter Howards Flowers Hugs Bunny I Choo Choo Choose You Train Ice Cream Truck and Ice Cream Homer Ice Palace Ice Sculpture Couch Gag Scene Imaginary Bear Impossible Tower Improvised Snare Inanimate Carbon Rod Monument Incubator Think Tank Inflatable Gorilla and Baboons IRS Drone Itchy and Scratchy Billboard Itchy and Scratchy Bots Itchy Balloon Itchy Mascot Itchy’s 70s Disco Itchy’s Mine Field Jacques and Fiesta Terrace Jasper and Springfield Community Center Jay G Bundle Jazzy Goodtimes Jesse Grass Jessica and Lovejoy House Jesus and Heavenly Swingset Jet Engine Bike Jewish Heaven Jimbo Lucius Sweet Johnny Tightlips and Platos Casino Juggler Julio and Hairy Shearers Juvenile Correction Facililty K9 Officer Kamp Bart & Kamp Krusty Kane Manor Kearney Kearney’s Other Son King Homer’s Skyscraper King Snorky King Winter and his Cave Kingsize Homer Bundle Knifey Spoonet and Crocky Waters Knightboat Kodos Krusty Fountain Krusty Mansion Krusty Station Krustylu Studios Krustys Kristmas on Ice Krusty’s One Plate Maximum Buffet Kwik-E-Mart Central Office La Belle Frottage Land Octopus Pen Lard Lad Donuts Laura Powers and Powers House Le Krusty Burger Left Handed Roadster Life Sized Spruce Moose Limo Lincolns Cabin Ling Bouvier Lisa Lionheart Lisa Statue Little Helper Ralph Little Lady Justic Little Lisa’s Recycling Plant Lobster Island Lotto N Liquor and Mr. Largo Luann and Cracker Factory Luft Waffles Lugash and Gym Lumpy Bundle Macaronis Shed Madame Chaos and Mindy Magic Palace Manacek and Brick Townhomes Manger Manjula and Apu’s Apartment Mansion of Solid Gold Mapple Store Mars Colony Marvin Monroe Tombstone Mary and Springfield Opry House Maude Praiseland Statue Mausoleum and Zombie Mayan Bundle Mexican Duffman and Lady Duff Mexican Duffman Bundle Milhouse’s Trailer Milo and Coolsville Mime Mini Nuclear Warhead Miss Springfield and Sleep Eazy Motel Model Donut Moe’s House Mojo Helper Monkey Money Poll Monorail Café Montgomery Burns State Prison Moog Mount Carlmore Mozert and Concert Hall Mr. Plow Mr. Sparkle Billboard Mr. Sparkley Mt. Krustmore Murderhorn Murderpuss Muscle Marge and Shapes Gym Museum of Swordfish Mutant Peacock Mutant Rabbit Mystical Self Defence National Bank of Springfield Nativity Scene Natural Faberge Egg Nickel n Dime Animation Nighthawk Diner and Rex Nightmare Pile Ninja Homer Practice Snake Nixon and Scandelgate Hotel Norbert’s Plane North Pole Station Not a Laser Shark Pool Number 111 Number 12 Number 14 Number 2 Number 21 Number 22 Number 29 Number 314 Number 5 Number 50 Number 51 Number 59 Number 67 Number 79 Number 85 Oasis Oktoberfest Gate Old English Station Old Faithless Old Gray Mare Old Mine Old Simpson Farm Old Tree Spirit Old West Sign Open Air Stage Opera Krusty Oscars Obstacles Truck Outlands Factory Outlands Sign and Mountain Man Pagon Bonfire Park Engineer Patches and Poor Violet Peacock Lounge Peekimon Park Pet Cemetery Pet Mutant Plant Pet Mutant Seedling Pharaoh Skinner and Throne Phineas Q Butterfats Pie Man Epic Statue Pies and Explosives Pile Pies for Funs Booth Piggly’s Super Smorg Pigs of Paradise Pen Pin Pals Bundle Pinkbeardy Yogurt Pinwheel Firework Pirate Kang Pirate Prison Plane Bot Planet Htype Plastic Prison Plastic Surgery Center Plow King Pokey Police Car Police Tank Polo Field House Pompeii Ruins Pont Du Gard Pope and St. Pauls Basilica Poppa Wheelies Portal to Rigel 7 Powell Mansion Prairie Maggie Prehistoric Jungle Preppers Compound Presidential Estate P-Rex and Tar Pits Pride of Ulster Banner and Leprechaun Princess Princess K and Florence of Arabia Prospector Pumpkin House Puritan Flanders Queen H and The Castle of Equalia Quick and Fresh Quicksand Quimborghini Quitters Rabbi K and Temple Beth Springfield Radiant BS Station Radioactive Man Billboard Radioactive Man Bundle Radioactive Man Film Set Radioactive Man Milhouse Radish Station Rancho Relaxo Raouls Penthouse Raptor Ray Gun Ray Patterson Reagan and the Reeducation Center Recycle Fort Red Nerd Knight Red Nerd Rogue Red Nerd Warrior Refrigeratorium ReNeducation Center Republican Party HQ Retro Lard Lad Rich Texan Rigellian Queen Rio Days Inn Ero Robby the Automaton Robot Robot Ant Bundle Rocket Car and Chester Rocket to Your Doom Roger Meyers Story Rolling Rock Rommelwood Barracks Rose and Capital City Capitol Building Rotating Religious Holo Statue Royal Tokyo Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers and Babysitter Bandit Russ Cargill Sacagawea Santa Santa’s Anvil Santa’s Little Helper Santa’s Plane Sled Santa’s Village Santa’s Workshop Sarah Wiggum and Springfield Aquarium Satellite Station Saxophone Lisa Scary Dock School Bus and Otto Sconewall Smithers Scratchy Mascot Self Reliant House Senor Ding Dong’s Doorbell Fiesta and Senor Ding Dong Sepulchre of Evil Sequel Shop Serfsons House Shaboom Kaboom Café Shadow Knight and Throne Shary Bobbins Shauna She She Lounge Sherri and Terri Shinning Hotel and Maze Shiva Shiva Statue Shooting Car Shortys Sidekick Milhouse Simpson Houseboat Simpson Laser Tag Ski Chalet Skulls Island Slaghold SLH Topiary Slide Factory Smooches on the Beach Snake with Rudolph Sneeds Feed and Seed Snow Monster Snowman Bundle Snub Club Snugglers Cove Sophie Krustofski Soul Extraction Institute Southern Cracker Fountain Space Barney Space Coyate and Pro Shop Space Shuttle Spellementary Library Spellementary Mess Hall Spider Willie Sportacus Spotlight Dancing Bot Sprawl Mart Springfield Animal Shelter Springfield Aslyum Springfield Bowl Springfield Cemetery Springfield Clamphitheater Springfield Falls Springfield Famers Markey Springfield Glenne Condos Springfield Gorge Springfield Greenhouse Springfield Heighs Opera House Springfield Hunting Supplies and Connor Grant Springfield Hyperstadium Springfield Museum Springfield Museum of Natural History Springfield Observatory Springfield of Tomorrow Sign Springfield Pet Shop and Jub Jub Springfield Shopper Springfield Sign Springfield Skating Rink Springfield Welcomes Bob Sign Springfield YMCA and Coach K Springy Spruce Caboose Sqanky Fish Squawky Squeaky Voice Teen Squirrel Luann Stack of Beer Stacy and Malibu Stacy HQ Stacy’s Dream House Stampy Ballon Star Spawn Statue of Burns STEM Conference Hotel Stiletto Scuplture Stone of Triumph Stonecutter Lodge and Number 1 Stonecutter Table Stonecutter Tunnel Stoners Pot Palace Street Cleaner Strongman Homer Stunt Bike Sugarloaf Mountain Sumatran Century Flower Sungazer Tour Bus Super Collider Super Sexy Flanders and Ski Lift Swelldorado Tailgate Taste of Duff Truck Tatum and Springfield Coliseum T-Ball Stand Teddy and Springfield National Park Teleporters (4) Tennis Court Tennis Machine TGI McScratchys The Collider The Egg Council Guy The Fracker The Grand Pumpkin The Gridiron The Grumple The Homer The League of Extra Horny Gentleman The Mayflower The Nag and Weasel and Guy Incognito The Paralyzer The Peek Inn The Scout Master The Stable at the Inn The Wiccans The Yes Guy THOH 2018 Witch Three Eyed Whale Time Travel Toaster Tappables Tire Fire Tourist Bundle Tower of Babel Town Square Training Plane Treasure Chest Truckasaurus Try N Save Tunnel of Love Turkey Stuffing Machine Turn Your Head and Coif Tuxedo Krusty Twirl n Hurl Twonicorn UFP Ultrahouse 2 Unoriginal Log Ride Up Up and Buffet UPA Talent Agency Uriah’s Heap Recycling Center and Hippie US Capitol Building USS Tom Clancy Uter and the Hungry Hun Valentines Pond Vehicle Pileup Vesuvius Pizza Vicious Monkeys Victorian UFO Victors Secret Wailing Wall Walking Kwik-E-Mart Washington and Cherry Tree Water Show Fountain Waterslide Tree Waverly Hills Elementary School Welcome to Springfield Sign Westminster Abbey Whack A Mole Whale White Witch Burns Wholesome Publishing WII Tank Wild West Film Set Wildlife Sanctuary Willie’s Tractor Wilted Rose Witch Marge and Cauldron Wizard Martin Wonder Films Woodstock Wooly Bully Wooly Mamoth Pen Work From Home Station World Wide Broadcast Dish Worm Train X Ray Truck Yardwork Simulator Ye Olde Off Ramp Inn Yellow Submersible Zip Zap and Za Zombie Zombie Sandwich Zutroy
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Sydney This Weekend(17th & 18th)

Outside shit
Market shit
Tasty shit
Art shit
Performance shit
Gig Shit
Education Shit
Chinese New Year Shit
Gay shit
Other shit
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Awful Awful Burger in Reno - The Little Nugget The Price is Right - truly amazing Hole in One game - YouTube Carnival Sunshine: Lido Marketplace Buffet Food Tour Batista's hole in the wall Las Vegas Cache Creek Presidential Suite Tour 2017 Walking around Hard Rock Resort in Punta Cana Eating at the Worst Reviewed Buffet in my City (Las Vegas ... Battista's Hole In The Wall Fine Italian Dining Las Vegas Vlog - Day 3: February 2020 Tim Ho Wan Manila SM Mega Mall Fashion Hall Mandaluyong Philippines Now Open by HourPhilippines.com

Hole In The Wall Casino has the best amenities around. Enjoy Hole In The Wall Casino when you stay in Danbury.Endless parking options are readily available close to Hole In The Wall Casino. So book your next vacation at Hole In The Wall Casino in Danbury and reap the many benefits of this wonderful hotel. This is definitely an easy question to answer! In my personal opinion and without a doubt … the best so called LV “hole in the wall” restaurant is/are located within ELLIS ISLAND (on Koval Road one block east of the Strip close to Flamingo Ave.). ... HOLE IN THE WALL CASINO AND HOTEL. REPLACED BY ST. CROIX CASINO DANBURY IN 2010. 30222 Highway 35 and Highway 77 Danbury, WI 54830. 800) BET-U-WIN. Casino • Live Dealer • Poker • Sports #1 Choice of U.S. Players! Mobile, tablet and desktop! $3,750 in Welcome Bonuses! BOVADA. BLACKJACK LIVE DEALER + $3,000 Welcome Bonus at BOVADA. Click For Practice Play FREE SLOTS • No Signup ... St. Croix Casino Danbury: "Hole in the Wall" no more - See 96 traveler reviews, 21 candid photos, and great deals for St. Croix Casino Danbury at Tripadvisor. Aztec Inn: Aztec Inn Casino is a Hole in the wall hotel, casino, internet cafe w/ Thai food buffet, & serves American breakfast - See 32 traveler reviews, 19 candid photos, and great deals for Aztec Inn at Tripadvisor. Brian Palmer: This hole in the wall is the best kept secret in Vegas and I'm ok with letting it out of the bag! This is a locals favorite and a must for dinner ot lunch on a Vegas trip only minutes from the strip. Courtney Melahn: EVERYTHING HERE IS AMAZING !!! The cheesy garlic bread is a must . Jolie Ballard: The Spumoni is the most amazing tasting dessert in Vegas!!!! Oh hell yum! 3. POP'S ... St. Croix Casino - Danbury Review. Formerly known as "Hole in the Wall," the St. Croix Casino-Danbury in Danbury, Wisconsin underwent a major transformation in 2010 and the former name falls painfully short describing it.The 120,000-square-foot facility includes 500 gaming machines, table games and dining choices that include the East Winds Dining Room, the South Winds Buffet and North Winds Deli.

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Awful Awful Burger in Reno - The Little Nugget

This day I meet up with Pennys4Vegas and head to the Sharknado Group Pull. Also check out Whiskey Liquor Up (Binion's) for the first time followed by the exp... Their hole in the wall eatery in Mongkok defied all odds by being awarded the coveted Michelin star during its first year of operations. Currently there are more than 20 outlets in 9 countries ... Flamingo Hotel & Casino on Las Vegas Strip - Duration: 9 ... Battista Hole In The Wall Review - Duration: 3:34. Ask Dan Nou 532 views. 3:34 . 6 Best Burgers on and off the Las Vegas Strip ... Among the resort's many offerings are luxe accommodations, the signature Rock Spa(R), 18-hole Nicklaus designed golf course, iconic music memorabilia and a larger-than-life Vegas-style casino ... This hole-in-the-wall diner was featured most notably on The Travel Channel and is now a popular food destination for hungry tourists like myself. I met a chef here who was kind enough to spend ... Las Vegas' finest Italian food Restaurant. Located just off the Las Vegas Strip and Flamingo. Come and dine where the Stars of Las Vegas dine. Enjoy the music, the fun, the romance and most of all ... A delightful contestant and a VERY interesting Hole In One playing. From the early '90s.*** UPDATE: I've posted a longer version of this clip here: https:... Las Vegas has many 1 star Restaurants according to Yelp. I found the most DISGUSTING ONE and decided to eat there.... bad decision...?Join the #TAYLORFAM ht... The Lido Marketplace Buffet -- on the Carnival Sunshine -- is located on Deck 9 Aft -- in the back of the ship. The marketplace is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night snacks and ... Cache Creek Casino Resort is a casino/resort located in Brooks, California, in Northern California's Capay Valley. Opened as a bingo hall in July 1985, it was renovated in 2002 and completed in ...

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